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Max Stimer’s The Ego and Its Own has been called ‘the most 
revolutionary [book] ever written’. First published in 1844, Stir- 
ner’s distinctive and powerful polemic sounded the death-knell 
of left Hegelianism, with its attack on Ludwig Feuerbach, Bruno 
Bauer, Moses Hess and others. It contains an enduring, and 
strikingly written, critique of both liberalism and socialism from 
the perspective of an extreme and eccentric individualism. Karl 
Marx was only one of many contemporaries provoked into a leng- 
thy rebuttal of Stirner’s argument. More recently, Stimer has 
been variously portrayed as a nihilistic anarchist, a precursor 
of Nietzsche, a forerunner of existentialism, and as manifestly 

This edition of Stimer’s work comprises a revised version of 
Steven Byington’s much-praised translation, together with an 
introduction and notes on the historical background to Stimer’s 



The Ego and Its Own 


Series editors 
Raymond Geuss 

Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Cambridge 
Quentin Skinner 

Regius Professor of Modern History in the University of Cambridge 

Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought is now firmly 
established as the major student textbook series in political theory. It aims 
to make available to students all the most important texts in the history of 
western political thought, from ancient Greece to the early twentieth 
century. All the familiar classic texts will be included, but the series seeks 
at the same time to enlarge the conventional canon by incorporating 
an extensive range of less well-known works, many of them never before 
available in a modern English edition. Wherever possible, texts are 
published in complete and unabridged form, and translations are specially 
commissioned for the series. Each volume contains a critical introduction 
together with chronologies, biographical sketches, a guide to further read- 
ing and any necessary glossaries and textual apparatus. When completed 
the series will aim to offer an outline of the entire evolution of western 
political thought. 

For a list of titles published in the series, please see end of book 


The Ego and Its Own 



Merton College, Oxford 



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© Cambridge University Press 1995 

This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception 
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, 
no reproduction of any part may take place without 
the written permission of Cambridge University Press. 

First published 1995 
Reprinted 2000 

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge 

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library 

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data 
Stirner, Max, 1806-1856. 

[Einzige und sein Eigentum. English] 

The ego and its own / Max Stirner; edited by David Leopold, 
p. cm. - (Cambridge texts in the history of political thought) 

Includes bibliographical references and indexes. 
isbn o 521 45016 0. - isbn o 521 45647 9 (pbk) 

1. Individualism. 2. Egoism. 1. Leopold, David. 11. Title. 
hi. Series. 

HM136.S7413 1995 

302.5'4~ dc20 94-6091 cip 

isbn o 521 45016 0 hardback 
isbn o 521 45647 9 paperback 




page ix 



Principal events in S timer's life 


Further reading 


Note on the translation 


The Ego and Its Own 


All things are nothing to me 


First Part: MAN 


I A human life 

i 3 

II Men of the old time and the new 

i 9 

i The ancients 

i 9 

2 The moderns 


§i The spirit 


§2 The possessed 


§3 The hierarchy 


3 The free 


§i Political liberalism 


§2 Social liberalism 


§3 Humane liberalism 

1 1 1 



Second Part: I 137 

I Ownness 141 

II The owner 155 

1 My power 166 

2 My intercourse 187 

3 My self-enjoyment 282 

III The unique one 320 

Biographical and other notes on the text 325 

Index of subjects 377 

Index of proper names 381 



I would like to thank the editors of this series, Raymond Geuss 
and Quentin Skinner, for their comments on, and support for, this 

I am also grateful to Arthur Burns and Katherine Morris for their 
efforts with an earlier draft of the Introduction, and to Pamela Ander- 
son, Matthew Kempshall, and Lawrence Stepelevich for their com- 
ments. Lucinda Rumsey innocently lent me a Bible and then spent 
six months answering an unreasonable number of questions with 
supererogatory kindness, Alex Clark gave generously of her expertise 
and support, and Bill Brewer made the fatal mistake of not looking 
completely bored when I talked about Stirner. 

But above all, I would like to acknowledge two larger and more 
general debts incurred over recent years. To Michael Freeden, my 
teacher, colleague, and friend, I owe much, not least the initial 
encouragement to undertake this edition, and for his continued sup- 
port, his sense of humour, and his critical acumen I am beholden to 
G. A. Cohen. The patience and example of both these scholars has 
meant a great deal to me, and I hope that they will accept this edition 
as payment towards at least some of the interest on the debt that I 
owe them. 



The Ego and Its Own has been called ‘the most revolutionary [book] 
ever written’, 1 and yet, when the Leipzig Kreisdirektion seized part 
of the first edition, the Saxon Minister for the Interior ordered the 
release of the confiscated copies on the grounds that the book was 
‘too absurd’ to constitute a danger to social or political order. Of all 
possible responses to Max Stirner’s work, indifference is perhaps the 
most unlikely. 

But Stirner’s book is not only striking and provocative; it has also 
played an important, if neglected, role in the history of political 
thought. Stirner’s polemic was, most obviously, an impulse to, and 
an indication of, the decline of the Hegelian left as a coherent intel- 
lectual movement. But it was, also, central to the formation of Marx- 
ism, forcing Karl Marx to break with left Hegelian modes of thought 
(he discusses the book in unparalleled detail over some 400 pages of 
The German Ideology ). Since then The Ego and Its Own has appeared 
ambiguous enough to provide subsequent generations with their own 
Stirner. For example, at the turn of the century, The Ego and Its Own 
was taken up - not least because of its adumbration of libertarian 
themes in its discussion of property and the state - as a founding 
text of individualist anarchism (especially in America, where it was an 
important influence on Benjamin R. Tucker and the journal Liberty ). 
Stirner has been counted, moreover, as an important precursor of 
Friedrich Nietzsche; although, despite the claims of some commen- 
tators, he cannot be definitively shown to have directly influenced 

James Huneker, Egoists. A Book of Supermen (New York, 1909), p. 350. 


Nietzsche, Stimer’s work anticipates, both stylistically and substan- 
tively, certain Nietzschean motifs in modem political thought. Then 
in the 1960s Stimer was rediscovered again, this time as a thinker 
with conceptual affinities - for example, in his anti-essentialist con- 
ception of the self as a ‘creative nothing’ (p. 7) - with existentialist 
thought. This plurality of interpretations should scarcely disappoint 
Stimer himself, since, rejecting any notion of external constraints on 
our understanding, his claim about the Bible would seem to apply 
equally to his own work: 

In fact, the child who tears it to pieces or plays with it, the Inca 
Atahualpa who lays his ear to it and throws it away contemptu- 
ously when it remains dumb, judges just as correctly about the 
Bible as the priest who praises in it the ‘Word of God’, or the 
critic who calls it a job of men’s hands. For how we toss things 
about is the affair of our choice , our free will : we use them accord- 
ing to our heart’s pleasure , or, more clearly, we use them just as 
we can. (p. 297) 

Apart from his authorship of this remarkable book, Stimer’s life 
was largely unexceptional. Bom as Johann Caspar Schmidt on 25 
October 1806 in Bayreuth, to conventional lower-middle-class par- 
ents of Lutheran persuasion, ‘Stimer’ was a childhood nickname 
(referring to his large forehead, exaggerated by the way in which he 
parted his hair) that he subsequently adopted as a literary pseudonym 
and then as his preferred name. He passed through university without 
distinction, eventually becoming a teacher at a respectable private 
girls’ school in Berlin. His spare time, in contrast, was spent in the 
more avant-garde of Berlin’s intellectual haunts, mixing in particular 
with ‘the free’ - the increasingly Bohemian group of teachers, stud- 
ents, officers, and journalists organized largely under the tutelage of 
the left Hegelian Bruno Bauer. During this period, Stimer often 
alluded to the existence of a magnum opus, on occasion even pointing 
to the desk which supposedly concealed the work, to the general 
scepticism and straightforward disbelief of his associates. When that 
work did appear (although dated 1845, The Ego and Its Own was 
published towards the end of October 1844), Stimer quickly disco- 
vered that widespread critical reaction does not necessarily translate 
into financial reward, and he fell back on hack journalism and com- 
petent translation (of the economic writings of Adam Smith, and his 
popularizer Jean-Baptiste Say, into German) to support himself. 


From this point onwards, Stirner increasingly adopted a solitary and 
rather pathetic existence; his second wife left him (his first wife had 
died giving birth to a still-born child) although not before he had 
frittered away the bulk of her inheritance, and he mainly expended 
his energies on continually moving to evade creditors (although not 
quickly enough to escape two brief periods in a debtors’ prison). 
Finally, after being stung in the neck by a winged insect, Stirner 
contracted a severe fever, and, after a brief remission, died on 25 
June 1856, largely unnoticed by the outside world. 


The Ego and Its Own is not always an easy work to engage with. 
Stirner’s unyielding prose has its admirers - Arnold Ruge, a contem- 
porary left Hegelian, for example, proclaimed it ‘the first readable 
book in philosophy that Germany has produced’ 2 - yet almost every 
feature of his writing seems calculated to unnerve. The use of aphor- 
ism and metaphor, the neologisms, the mixture of self-consciously 
obscure terminology with colloquial language, the excessive italiciz- 
ation and hyperbole, all confound the received framework in which 
philosophical argument is conducted. Perhaps most striking is Stir- 
ner’s repeated juxtaposition of words with formal similarities or 
related meanings not simply for humorous effect, but as a way of 
presenting his views. This method of proceeding by assertion (rather 
than by argument) exploits etymological connections - for example, 
between words with connotations of individuality and words referring 
to ownership, as in the play between Eigentum and Eigenheit 
(‘property’ and ‘ownness’ or ‘belonging distinctively to oneself) - in 
order to insist on (rather than demonstrate) a claim - here, the Hegel- 
ian assertion that property is expressive of selfhood. 

The point, however, is not simply that Stirner has a highly idiosyn- 
cratic and somewhat relentless style, but that there is a connection 
between the form of Stirner’s writing and his conception of language 
and rationality as human creations that have come to bind and restrict 
their creators. This dominance of language and reason is sustained, 
for Stirner, by a conception of truth as constituting a privileged 

2 Letter to his mother, 17 December 1844, Arnold Ruge, Briefwechsel und Tagebuch- 
blatter aus den Jahren 1825-1880 , ed. Paul Nerrlich (Berlin, 1886), volume 1, p. 386. 



domain lying beyond the individual. As long as you believe in this 
truth, he insists, you are a ‘ servant ’ (p. 312). To subvert this tyranny, 
truths must be deprived of ‘their sorry existence’ as independent 
subjects and subordinated to the individual. 7 ’, he insists, ‘am the 
criterion of truth’ (p. 314). It is this radical assertion of the relativity 
of rationality, truth, and language, that grounds Stirner’s bizarre 
prose. The only restriction on the forms of expression and mode of 
argumentation acceptable to him is that they serve our individual 
ends, and it seems that received meanings and traditional standards 
of argumentation do not always satisfy that criterion. 

Despite its appearance as an inchoate melange of aphorisms and 
word plays, The Ego and Its Own has a decipherable, if complex, 
architecture, structured around Stirner’s tripartite division of human 
experience into the categories of realism, idealism, and egoism, 
embodied in his accounts of individual development, of human his- 
tory, and in his racial rereading of that history. 

This division is introduced in Stirner’s account of ‘A human life’, 
which treats individual development as a difficult process of self- 
discovery divided into the three chronological stages of childhood, 
youth, and adulthood. Children are realistic, their development frus- 
trated by the external forces of their world (parental disapproval, for 
example). This initial and inadequate stage is overthrown when, with 
the self-discovery of mind, children discover in their own courage 
and shrewdness a means to outwit those powers. However, this liber- 
ation is simultaneously a new enslavement, since the youth is released 
into a still more exhausting battle with conscience and reason which 
constitutes the period of idealism. This dialectic of progression and 
curse is broken only with the transition to adulthood which takes 
place with a second self-discovery, of the corporeal self, in which 
individuals discover their own embodiment, their existence as indi- 
viduals with material interests of their own. In this adulthood of 
egoism, individuals deal with everything as they wish, setting their 
personal satisfaction above all else. 

Stirner sees this dialectic which organizes the experience of indi- 
vidual development as an analogue of a process being played out on 
a grander scale throughout history. The tripartite division of history 
into the ancient or pre-Christian, the modern or Christian, and the 
future, corresponds to the epochs of realism, idealism, and egoism, 
and structures the remainder of the book. 



The First Part of The Ego and Its Own is concerned with an account 
of human history up to the present, although its primary focus is on 
the nature of the modern epoch of idealism - the ancient world is 
discussed only insofar as it contributes to the genesis of modernity. 
Stirner begins with an analogy between the historical development 
of humankind and the stages of a human life; although the received 
nomenclature for pre-Christian societies is ‘the ancients’, he suggests 
that ‘they ought properly to be called children’ (p. 19). The ancient 
world stands in the same relation to the Christian world as the child 
stands to youth: they are opposites, the former concerned with mater- 
ial and natural, rather than intellectual and spiritual, relations, and 
Stirner’s concern is to trace how that opposite gave birth to its other. 
The ancients, of course, had thoughts, but they were always thoughts 
of things-, an attitude which, in Stirner’s reproduction of a familiar 
Hegelian conceit, he describes as having been carried down to the 
present day by the Jews, the ‘precocious children of antiquity’ 
(p. 23). The ancient world, in short, is an epoch of realism , charac- 
terized by a deference to natural relations, overthrown only with the 
self-discovery of mind that Stirner portrays as the cumulative result of 
the intellectual history of fifth-century Athens. His highly abbreviated 
account runs from the Sophists to the radical nominalism of Timon 
and Pyrrho. It was the latter’s break with the natural world - in 
which all social bonds are dissolved and dismissed as burdens which 
diminish spiritual freedom - which constituted a final successful 
revolt against the natural and this-worldly, and formed the ancients’ 
bequest to the moderns. 

Stirner’s account of the historical development of modernity is 
essentially reduced to a single event, the Reformation, which punctu- 
ates the succession of Catholic to Protestant hegemony. His primary 
concern is to show that, from the perspective of the individual, this 
fracture constituted an extension and intensification of, rather than 
a break with, the domination by spirit. First, whereas the Middle 
Ages had maintained the distinction between the spiritual and the 
sensuous, the Reformation extended the religious principle to the 
sensuous (allowing its priests to marry, for example), thereby 
destroying the independence of the latter. Second, the Reformation 
bound the religious principle more effectively to the individual, by 
virtue of the more inward faith of Protestantism which established a 
constant ‘tearing apart of man’ into natural impulses and sacred 



‘Max Stimer. Drawn from memory by Friedrich Engels, London 


duties. Stirner captures the resulting internal conflict in the striking 
image of the modern self as a country divided between the populace 
on the one hand and the secret police, the spies and eavesdroppers 
of conscience, on the other. 

Images do as much work as arguments in Stirner’s text, and his 
images of modernity are always stark and unsettling. At one point he 
describes the activity of the moderns as ‘the bustle of vermin’ moving 
about on a ‘stony and indomitable’ other, ‘like parasitic animals on a 



body from whose juices they draw nourishment, yet without consum- 
ing it’ (p. 63). But the dominant images of the modem - playing, not 
least, on the many connotations of Geist - are of the spectral and the 
insane. The modem world is peopled by ‘ghosts’, ‘spirits’, ‘phan- 
tasms’, ‘demons’, and ‘bogies’ of every kind. But the spectral does 
not merely walk abroad; the individual in the modem world, in 
imagining both the world and her corporeal self as the merest sem- 
blance, is, for Stimer, literally possessed. This image of modernity 
as an asylum is, he insists, not intended figuratively; almost all of 
humankind are fools in a madhouse, their illusion of sanity and free- 
dom only the result of that asylum’s extent. 

Most of Stimer’s illustrations of progressive Protestant hegemony 
are taken from the realm of ideas, and combine to make up a 
short, schematic, and typically idiosyncratic history of modem 
philosophy. Descartes is the Luther of philosophy, inaugurating 
the break with a common consciousness which dealt with things 
whether rational or not. Descartes’ conception of the self as 
constituted by thought alone, and his rejection of anything that 
mind does not legitimate, establishes the Christian principle on 
which modem philosophy is founded, namely that ‘only the rational 
is, only mind is!’ (p. 78). This struggle to seek out and demonstrate 
the spiritual in the mundane, initiated by the Cartesian ego, culmi- 
nates in the rational theodicy of Hegel, in which an ordered 
hierarchy of concepts governs the world. The move beyond the 
sensuous to spirit, which makes German thought paradigmatically 
philosophical and excludes the English ‘clear heads’ (p. 79), like 
Hume, from the canon, is perfecdy captured, for Stimer, in 
Chamisso’s account of the wundersame Geschichte of Peter Schle- 
mihl - the archetype of the Christian rejection of the physical, a 
man so modem he could not even cast a shadow. 

Individual and historical development are the two primary forms 
of the Stimerian dialectic, but in order to clarify its form he inserts 
‘episodically’ a racial (and racist) analogue of the historical account. 
Human history, in this new narrative, ‘whose shaping properly 
belongs altogether to the Caucasian race’, is divided into three ‘Cau- 
casian ages’. The first, in which the Caucasian race works off its 
‘innate Negroidity\ is vaguely located as including the era of Egyptian 
and North African importance in general and the campaigns of 
Sesostris III in particular, but its importance is clearly symbolic. 


‘Negroidity’ is the racial parallel of antiquity and childhood, rep- 
resenting a time of dependence on things: ‘on cock’s eating, bird’s 
flight, on sneezing, on thunder and lightning, on the rustling of sacred 
trees and so forth’ (p. 63). The second epoch, in which the Caucasian 
race escapes its ‘ Mongoloidity (Chineseness)’, includes ‘the invasions 
of the Huns and Mongols up to the Russians’, and parallels the 
modem age and youth in representing the time of dependence on 
thoughts. S timer’s concern with the continuity of this Christian 
epoch is emphasized by his choice of ‘Mongolism’ as the parallel of 
the modem, ‘Chineseness’ being a standard and pejorative Hegelian 
shorthand for lack of qualitative change. ‘Reserved for the future’ is 
the ‘really Caucasian ’ era in which, having thrown off the Negroid 
and Mongol inheritance, the egoistic self can escape its dependence 
on both natural forces and ideas. 

Stimer’s dialectic is obviously repetitive (Karl Marx, exasperated 
by this reiteration, wrote ‘Repetitio est mater studiorum’ 3 against 
his notes on Stimer’s conception of history) but also both highly 
schematic and derivative. First, empirical detail, insofar as it 
appears at all, functions solely as the bearer of conceptual develop- 
ment. The ancients, for example, like the child and ‘Negroidity’, 
are not serious objects of investigation, but simply the disguises 
of ‘realism’. In The German Ideology , Marx calls the book a Geister- 
geschichte , a history of ‘ghosts’ within which empirical details are 
utilized only to provide convenient bodies for the ‘spirits’ of 
realism, idealism, and egoism in turn. The point is not simply 
that this is not good history, but also that it begins to look 
suspiciously like the very ‘Christian’ vice that Stimer denounces 
elsewhere at length - the neglect of the concrete and the particular 
in favour of abstract conceptual categories. Second, much of the 
content and structure of Stimer’s history is derived from Hegel 
or his followers. There are scarcely digested ‘borrowings’ from 
Hegel’s own work throughout. To take only one example, apart 
from schematizing what are prefatory and passing remarks in Hegel 
into all that needs saying, Stimer’s portrayal of the epoch of 
‘Negroidity’ does little more than reproduce the description of 
Africa in Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of World History: 

3 ‘Repetition is the mother of learning’, The German Ideology, Marx Engels Collected 
Works (London, 1976), volume 5, p. 186. 



Introduction as ‘the land of childhood’, where humankind ‘has not 
progressed beyond a merely sensuous existence’. 4 However in its 
overall construction or structure, Stirner’s dialectic is derivative of 
Hegelian/sm more generally. In particular, in his two most obvious 
‘innovations’ in regard to Hegel’s own historical schema - first, 
in following a tripartite rather than quadripartite division of history; 
and second, in treating the future as the third synthesizing dimen- 
sion in that configuration - Stirner’s predecessors include both 
August Cieszkowski, in his opuscule Die Prolegomena zur Historioso- 
phie (1838), and Moses Hess, in Die europdische Triarchie (1841). 
Both Cieszkowski and Hess, themselves consciously following 
Herder, also draw analogies with individual development, the three 
stages of history representing the childhood, youth, and maturity 
of humankind. 


Throughout the First Part of The Ego and Its Own , Stirner constructs a 
lengthy and unorthodox genealogy of the modern, not only in the mun- 
dane sense of tracing a linear progression through modes of experience, 
but also in the F oucauldian sense of trying to unsettle by demonstrating 
that modernity fails to escape from the very thing that it claims to have 
outgrown - namely religious modes of thought. This is clearest in Stir- 
ner’s treatment of Ludwig Feuerbach, the leading figure of the Hegel- 
ian left. The very structure of the book would have revealed Feuerbach 
as the primary target of Stirner’s polemic to contemporary readers. The 
two parts of Stirner’s book headed Man and I are an implicit structural 
parody of the sections God and Man of Feuerbach’s best-known work, 
The Essence of Christianity (1841). 

Stirner rejects the contemporary consensus that Feuerbach had 
completed the critique of religion, and provocatively insists that the 
Feuerbachian problematic reproduces the central features of Chris- 
tianity. For Feuerbach, the central error of religion was that it separ- 
ated human attributes from actual individuals by transferring the 
predicates of the species into another world as if they constituted a 
self-sustaining being. But, for Stirner, the errors of religion are not 

4 G. W. F. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History’ : Introduction (Cambridge, 
1975). P- i7 2 - 


overcome with a rejection of God as transcendent subject; rather, 
religion is defined formally as the subordination of the individual to 
spirit in any of its guises. Because Feuerbach’s transformative criti- 
cism leaves the divine predicates untouched, he is charged with 
allowing the sacred to remain, if not as God then as ‘Man with a 
capital MP (p. 55). Feuerbach had not revealed human nature as it 
was, but rather deified a purely prescriptive account of what being 
human involved, thus leaving the ‘real kernel’ of religion, the positing 
of an ‘essence over me’ (p. 46), intact. Indeed, Feuerbach’s achieve- 
ment was a ‘ change of masters' (p. 55) which actually established a 
more complete tyranny than before, tying the individual even more 
securely to a divine ruler: first, by rejecting the transcendence of 
religion in favour of an immanent divinity, making a God of our sup- 
posed nature; second, in thus discovering a ‘God’ who could possess 
all, believers and unbelievers alike. 

Feuerbach’s failure to escape from the religious is no isolated inci- 
dent for Stirner, but is rather paradigmatic of modernity. ‘The free’, 
who do not constitute a distinct epoch in their own right, but are 
included as the most modern of the moderns, are found guilty of the 
same offence. Although Stirner’s characterization of ‘the free’ owes 
much to the eponymous Berlin Hegelians with whom he had earlier 
associated, they are clearly intended to embody more widespread intel- 
lectual temptations, which, subdivided into ‘political’, ‘social’, and 
‘humane’ ‘liberalisms’, he discusses in turn. Although they disagree 
about the exactnatureofour humanity (identifying the species respect- 
ively with citizenship, labour, and critical activity) all the ‘liberals’ 
reproduce the Feuerbachian problematic, whereby, first, individuals 
are separated from their human essence, and, second, that essence is 
set above those individuals as something to be striven for. For Stirner, 
this modern propaganda for the species, which culminates in the 
demand that the mundane and private individual must work to become 
truly human (he refers, as an example, to an article by an obscure con- 
temporary, the young Karl Marx), simply reproduces the religious div- 
ision of individuals into ‘an essential and unessential self’ (p. 34). For 
the individual, the experience of alienation remains the same. Whether 
we strive to become more like God or more like the ‘true man’, Stirner 
insists that ‘I can never take comfort in myself as long as I think that I 
have still to find my true self’ (p. 283). 

In contrast, Stirner ‘will hear nothing of this cutting in two’ (p. 32) 



Engels’ caricature of ‘die Freien’. Reading from left: ‘Ruge, Buhl, 
Nauwerck, [Bruno] Bauer, Wigand, Edgar [Bauer], Stirner, Meyen, 
stranger, Koppen the Lieutenant’. The squirrel in the top left comer 
represents the Prussian minister Eichhorn. 

and insists that alienation can only be overcome by rejecting the human 
essence of the ‘liberals’ as the enemy of selfhood rather than its true 
content and aspiration - as the striking epigraph to the Second Part has 
it, ‘Man’, as well as God, must die. In its place Stirner seeks to rehabili- 
tate the prosaic and mortal self, the ‘un-man [ Unmensch ]’ for whom the 
notion of a ‘calling’ is alien, the ‘man who does not correspond to the 
concept man’ (p. 159). For Stirner, because there are no universal or 
prescriptive elements in human nature, the concept cannot ground any 
claim about how we ought to live: 

I am a man just as the earth is a star. As ridiculous as it would be 
to set the earth the task of being a ‘thorough star’, so ridiculous it 
is to burden me with the call to be a ‘thorough man’, (p. 1 63) 

Rather, we need to learn, as Stirner’s Nietzschean injunction has it, to 
give up our ‘foolish mania to be something else’ (p. 149) and become 
what we are. 



Whereas the negative project of the First Part of The Ego and Its 
Own was to demonstrate that modernity had striven unsuccessfully 
to overcome religious modes of thought, the positive project of the 
Second Part is to characterize the future epoch of egoism. 

Egoism, for Stirner, is not self-interested action simpliciter , but 
is rather related to another good which he values above all else, 
characterized, somewhat opaquely, as the ‘ownness [EigenheitY of 
individuals. The centrality and importance of ‘ownness’ for Stirner 
can hardly be exaggerated - not least it was the ‘ownness’ of individ- 
uals that was suppressed in the ancient and modern worlds, and 
‘ownness’ which is fully realized in the epoch of egoism. 

‘Ownness’ is best understood as a variety of self-mastery, a form 
of substantive individual autonomy which insists that any actions or 
desires which involve waiving or suspending individual judgement 
violate the self-mastery and independence of the person concerned. 
‘I am my own\ he writes, ‘only when I am master of myself, instead 
of being mastered ... by anything else’ (p. 153). Stirner accepts that 
for some it may well be the case that ‘I can make very little out of 
myself’, but insists that ‘this very little is everything’, that any exist- 
ence I create for myself is ‘better than what I allow to be made out 
of myself by the might of others’ (p. 163). Occasionally ‘ownness’ is 
described in terms of a prescription of law to oneself; autonomous 
individuals, he claims, ‘bear their law in themselves and live according 
to it’ (p. 182). But some care is needed here, since law is a declaration 
of will that is supposed to be binding on the individual, and yet 
Stirner insists that the individual cannot legitimately bind herself. 
Even a law that we prescribe for ourselves does not bind, since ‘in the 
next moment I can refuse obedience’ (p. 174). Importantly, Stirner is 
here rejecting the classic modern method, perhaps most familiar from 
the social contract tradition, for reconciling autonomy and obligation, 
by claiming that even self-assumed obligations are incompatible with 
autonomy - a self-assumed obligation is still a duty, and ‘ownness’ 
can be realized ‘only by recognizing no duty , not binding myself nor 
letting myself be bound’ (p. 175). 

In places Stirner simply identifies the concept of egoism with auton- 
omy, as in his provocative description of God as an egoist on the 
grounds that ‘He serves no higher person’ (p. 6), or in repeated 



references to heteronomy (rather than altruism) as the antonym of 
egoism. However, it might be clearer to talk here of egoism being 
subordinated to ‘ownness’, of an egoism which is not literally ‘self- 
sacrificing’ (p. 70). This is perhaps most marked in those passages 
where Stirner discusses the case of individuals who venture every- 
thing for a single end or passion. Take the example of the ‘avaricious 
man’ who sacrifices everything else in order ‘to gather treasures’ 
(p. 70); his actions are clearly self-interested (he acts only to enrich 
himself), but it is an egoism that Stirner rejects as ‘a one-sided, 
unopened, narrow egoism’ (p. 70), because with the subordination 
of everything to a single end, that end begins to ‘inspire, enthuse, 
fanaticize’ us, it ‘becomes our - master’ (p. 58). In short, this one- 
sided, ‘self-sacrificing’ egoism is rejected because it violates our 
‘ownness’; the avaricious man, Stirner suggests, rather than being 
self-determining, is ‘dragged along’ (p. 56) by his appetites. 

Stirnerian self-mastery thus has both external and internal dimen- 
sions, demanding not only that we avoid subordinating ourselves to 
others, but also that we avoid submitting to our own appetites or 
ends. Stirner accepts the claim that if any idea or desire ‘plants itself 
firmly in me, and becomes indissoluble’, then I have ‘become its 
prisoner and servant, a possessed man’ (p. 127). This attack on the 
Christian ‘fixedity’ of ideas does not entail that the egoist can no 
longer allow herself to have ideas, but rather that she must never 
allow an idea to make her ‘a tool of its realization’ (p. 302). The 
egoist must exercise ‘power’ not only over ‘the exactions and violences 
of the world’, but also exercise this ‘ power over my nature’ and avoid 
becoming the ‘slave of my appetites’ (p. 295). Stirner thus encourages 
the individual to cultivate and extend an ideal of emotional detach- 
ment towards both her passions and her ideas. 


Morality is defined for Stirner by its positing of an obligation or duty 
on the individual to behave in certain ways, and by its ‘fixedity’: 
morality is ‘a rigid unbending master' 1 (p. 60). Like religion, morality 
demands that the individual sacrifice her autonomy to an alien end, 
that she give up her own will ‘for an alien one which is set up as rule 
and law’ (p. 75), and it is this opposition between individual autonomy 
and moral obligation that grounds Stirner’s rejection of the latter. 



However, although egoism is opposed to, rather than a form of, 
morality, it does not follow that the egoist is immoral - Stirner 
rejects the idea of an exclusive opposition between morality and 
immorality as ‘antediluvian’ (p. 317) - or that Stirner is inconsistent 
in stressing the evaluative superiority of egoism over other modes 
of experience and action. Stirner’s rejection of morality is grounded 
not, as is often suggested, in a rejection of values as such, but in 
the affirmation of what might be called non-moral goods , that is, 
he allows a realm of actions and desires which, although not moral 
(because they involve no obligations to others), are still to be 
assessed positively. Stirner’s conception of morality is in this sense 
a narrow one, and his rejection of its claims is in no way coexten- 
sive with a rejection of the validity of all evaluative judgement. 
Consider his discussion of Nero, where he asserts that both the 
egoist and the moralist would agree that the emperor’s behaviour 
is to be rejected, but on very different evaluative grounds. The 
egoist despises Nero not because the emperor was immoral (that 
is, violated his duties to others), but rather because, like the moral 
man, he was ■ possessed ’ (p. 53), because, that is, Nero’s obsessive 
predilections violated his self-mastery. Similarly, there is no incon- 
sistency in Stimer’s explicitly evaluative vocabulary when he talks 
positively of the egoist having ‘the courage of a lie’ (p. 265), or, 
in a negative example, of the abdication of an individual’s own 
judgement to her family as a ‘weakness’ (p. 197). Stirner is clearly 
committed to the ‘non-nihilistic’ view that a certain kind of charac- 
ter and mode of behaviour (namely, autonomous individuals and 
actions) are to be valued above all others. 

Many secondary authorities have portrayed Stirner as a ‘psycho- 
logical egoist’, that is, as holding the descriptive claim that all 
(intentional) actions are motivated by a concern for the agent’s 
greatest interest. However, the textual evidence for this characteriz- 
ation of Stirner is sparse, typically consisting of those passages 
where he draws a contrast between the egoist proper, who con- 
sciously rejects all heteronomy, and the ‘involuntary egoist’, who 
serves a higher being (God or humanity) but does so only because 
this gratifies her own desire. It should be said that if any of these 
passages is supposed to constitute an argument for psychological 
egoism then it is not obviously successful. Even if we always 
(intentionally) do what we want to do, this might only show that 



our motivations are our motivations rather than anyone else’s, and 
not that these motivations are of self-interest. But, in context, 
these passages are inadequate as evidence of any commitment to 
psychological egoism on Stirner’s part. First, it is not clear that 
the contrast between proper and involuntary egoism is exhaustive - 
that is, includes all actions across all times - which is what 
psychological egoism requires. The ‘involuntary egoist’ is rather 
portrayed as the contemporary product of an age which hangs 
uncomfortably between ‘two domains’, where individuals are unable 
to defend morality vigorously, and yet are not reckless enough to 
live egoistically either. The First Part of the book might confirm 
this reading since it is structured around the opposition between 
egoistic and other modes of experience, indeed it suggests that 
non-egoistic action is historically predominant. Second, it seems 
that for Stirner this ‘involuntary egoism’ is in fact not egoism, but 
its opposite; ‘unconscious egoism’, he insists, is ‘ not egoism , but 
thralldom, service, self-renunciation’ (p. 149). Finally, in an import- 
ant discussion of the case of a woman who sacrifices her love for 
another in order to respect the wishes of her family, Stirner appears 
explicitly to consider psychological egoism as an explanation - one 
might say, he concedes, that ‘here too selfishness prevailed’ since 
the decision ‘came from the feeling that the pliable girl felt herself 
more satisfied by the unity of her family than by the fulfilment of 
her wish’ (pp. 196-7) - only to reject the suggestion, insisting 
that if ‘the pliable girl were conscious of having left her self-will 
unsatisfied and humbly subjected herself to a higher power’ 
(p. 197), then her actions are ruled by piety as opposed to egoism. 


Stirner’s images of the state are dramatic and varied. The state is 
both beast and machine: the rapacious king of the animal world, 
simultaneously ‘lion and eagle’ (p. 226); but also a giant mechanism, 
a complex system of cogs moving ‘the clockwork of . . . individual 
minds’ (p. 201) no longer capable of following their own impulse. 
The state is also both God and the Devil: grounded in the self- 
renunciation of the individual, the state, he insists, in a mocking echo 
of Hegel, is sacred, ‘the lord of my spirit, who demands faith and 
prescribes to-ifie articles of faith, the creed of legality’ (p. 273); but 



the state is also Satan, behaving in practice as the Devil behaves in 
theory, demanding that we pledge our very ‘souls’ (our autonomy) to 
it (p. 273). What this complex of images shares is the connotation of 
an antipathy between state and individual. The state always involves 
the ‘limiting’, ‘taming’, ‘subordination’, and even ‘slavery’ of the indi- 
vidual. As Stirner repeatedly insists, ‘we two, the State and I, are 
enemies’ (p. 161), between which there are only two alternatives: ‘it 
or I’ (p. 227). This relationship of absolute hostility between the state 
and individual is based on the incompatibility between individual 
autonomy and obligations to obey the law. ‘Own will and the State’, 
he writes ‘are powers in deadly hostility, between which no “perpetual 
peace” is possible’ (p. 175). 

Since individual autonomy is incompatible with, and more import- 
ant than, a general duty to obey the law, Stirner rejects absolutely the 
legitimacy of political obligation. This rejection stands irrespective of 
the foundation of that obligation and whatever the form of the state: 
7 ’, writes Stirner, ‘am free in no state’ (p. 201). He discusses, for 
example, the participatory republic proposed by the left Hegelian 
Edgar Bauer, in which there is no government established apart from 
and above the citizen body, and insists that even here there is only a 
‘change of masters’ (p. 204) and not the end of the relationship 
between ruler and ruled - there might be no government as distinct 
from the people, but there is still clearly a government or people 
standing over the individual, expressing a will other than our own 
which we are expected to obey. ‘Every state’, he insists, ‘is a despotism , 
be the despot one or many’ (p. 175). Even in the hypothetical case 
of unanimous agreement of a citizen body, Stirner denies that the 
autonomous individual would be bound by the result. To be bound 
today by ‘my will of yesterday’ would be to turn my ‘creature’, that 
is ‘a particular expression of will’, into my ‘commander’; it would be 
to freeze my will, and Stirner denies that ‘because I was a fool yester- 
day I must remain such’ (p. 175). 

Stirner sees the state as a human product, albeit one that dominates 
its own creators. What generates and sustains the state, on his 
account, is the willingness of individuals to subordinate their own 
will to the ‘will’ of their own creation, expressed in law. Stimer’s 
characterization of this relation between individual and state alludes, 
in its choice of vocabulary, to Hegel’s dialectic of Herrschaft and 
Knechtschaft in the Phenomenology of Spirit : 



He who, to hold his own, must count on the absence of will in 
others is a thing made by these others, as the master is a thing 
made by the servant. If submissiveness ceased, it would be all 
over with lordship, (p. 175) 

But this promotion of Hegel’s moment of ‘recognition’ in dominion 
into a complete account of the sources of state power results in what 
might be called an idealist sociology. The state exists only because 
of ‘the disrespect that I have for myself’ (p. 252), and ‘with the 
vanishing of this undervaluation’ the state itself will be ‘extinguished’ 
(p. 252). This idealist account of the sources of state power, in which 
it is the abdication of selfhood which maintains the integrity of the 
state, grounds Stirner’s very different responses to the questions of 
civil disobedience and crime. 

Stimer’s brief and contrasting accounts of Socrates and Alcibiades 
can be read as an implicit indictment of the respect for law embodied 
in the practice of civil disobedience. Socrates ? refusal to escape pun- 
ishment, or even (earlier) to request banishment, was clearly 
grounded in a commitment not to weaken the community by 
undermining the system of law, and is roundly condemned by Stirner. 
Socrates was a ‘fool’ to concede to the Athenians the right to con- 
demn him; his failure to escape was a ‘weakness’, a product of his 
‘delusion’ that he was a member of a community rather than an 
individual, and of his failure to understand that the Athenians were 
his ‘ enemies ’’ , that he himself and no one else could be his only judge 
(p. 1 91). Alcibiades, in contrast - who, amongst other infamies, fled 
Athens to avoid trial when he was suspected of complicity in the 
mutilation of the Hermae - is praised as an ‘intriguer of genius’ 
(p. 1 91), an egoist who undermined the state precisely by breaking 
with the ancient prejudice that individuals were free only if, and to 
the extent that, they were members of a free community. 

In contrast to Stirner’s rejection of civil disobedience is his notori- 
ous endorsement of crime. Stirner denies that crime is peculiarly 
concerned with direct relations between individuals; rather, it 
mediates the relation between an individual and the sacred (in the 
form of legality). The criminal is punished not by individuals for 
actions which have harmed them, but by the state for actions which 
have undermined some fixed idea (without the legal recognition of 
the sanctity of marriage, for example, infidelity is not a ‘crime’ what- 
ever its effects on individuals). Crime will accordingly disappear with 

xxvi 1 


the epoch of egoism, when actions are judged by their effect on 
individual interests (not their effect on the sacred). Meanwhile, 
Stirner defends the individual act of crime as an assertion of individ- 
ual autonomy against its chief usurper, weakening the ‘cement’ 
(respect for law) which holds the state together. In more generalized 
form - and drawing a distinction between ‘revolution’ (which seeks 
to erect a new social order) and ‘insurrection’ (which represents the 
opposition of individuals to any order) - Stirner even suggests that 
crime has a unique insurrectionary potential which might eventually 
destroy the state. 


Individuals have also been held to have obligations generated by their 
membership of communities that they neither create nor choose to 
belong to, communities bound by ‘natural ligature[s]’ (p. 276) such 
as ‘blood’, locality, language, class, and common disposition. Stirner’s 
predictable response to the resulting conflict between such obli- 
gations and ‘ownness’ is to reject the value of community in all its 
forms. The sentimental blandishments of German nationhood, for 
example, are ridiculed as ‘ general , abstract, an empty, lifeless, concept ’ 
(p. 205); patriotism, he insists, is incompatible with egoism (p. 32). 
Similarly, because of the potential conflict between family obligations 
and personal interests, Stirner insists that individuals should act 
autonomously and follow their own good, rather than succumbing 
out of ‘weakness’ to either the will of another family member or the 
sacred in the form of ‘family honour’; ‘the forming of family ties’, 
claims Stirner, 1 binds a man’ (p. 102). 

In outlining the egoist’s attempt to emancipate herself from all 
obligations to ‘natural’ communities, Stirner makes no attempt to 
distinguish between feeling ‘at home’ and being subjugated. ‘Belong- 
ing’ can of course connote being a part of as well as being the rightful 
possession of; ‘bonds’ can similarly suggest solidarity as well as that 
which shackles; ‘ties’ can provide security as well as bind. Stirner, 
however, never seriously considers the possibility that these com- 
munities might fulfil, still less that they can empower, individuals. It 
seems that belonging to a ‘natural’ community is equivalent to being 
owned by another, and ‘the individual’, writes Stirner, ‘is the irrecon- 
cilable enemy of . . . every tie , every fetter’ (p. 192). 



Even ‘society’ falls victim to Stimer’s claim that ‘as long as there 
exists even one institution which the individual may not dissolve’, 
individual autonomy cannot be realized (Stirner makes much in this 
context of a linguistic play, and doubtful etymological link, between 
society - Gesellschafi - and an early word for a hall - Sal - a building 
which contains and restricts its inhabitants). Stirner claims that 
society and not isolation was humankind’s ‘ state of nature’ (p. 271), 
an original condition whose inadequacies are in due course outgrown. 
The historical relation between individual and society, he continues, 
is analogous to the developing relationship between a mother and 
child, starting before the foetus can breathe with life in ‘the most 
intimate conjunction’ (p. 271), moving as an infant from the lap and 
breast to the pram and leading reins, and then finally escaping to 
play in the streets outside. The conflict between individual and 
society, like the conflict between the child and mother, comes from 
the adult preference for a less suffocating environment, and society, 
like the mother, must strive to destroy the individual’s autonomy and 
inhibit her maturity if the original relationship is to be maintained. 

Stirner does not claim that relations between individuals end with 
the escape from ‘society’; rather, he draws a distinction between 
relations of ‘belonging’, which characterize ‘society’ (as well as the 
‘state’ and ‘community’) and which involve a tie binding individuals 
together, and the relations of ‘uniting’, which characterize the epoch 
of egoism and occur between individuals who themselves remain 
independent and self-determining. Just as, he claims, a father and 
son initially bound together in a relationship of subordination can, 
following the age of majority, establish a relationship of independent 
equals in which neither sacrifices his autonomy, so in the historical 
maturity of egoism individuals can establish a form of association - 
the union of egoists - which does not violate ‘ownness’ and so consti- 
tutes an appropriate vehicle for advancing egoistic interests. The 
union of egoists is characterized in many different ways: for example, as 
a deliberate product of individual action, unlike ‘natural’ communities 
which W without our making them’ (p. 198). But above all else, the 
union is an association which does not involve the subordination of 
individuals, the union is ‘a son and co-worker’ (p. 273) of our auton- 
omy, a constantly shifting alliance which enables individuals to unite 
without loss of sovereignty, without swearing allegiance to anyone 
else’s ‘flag’ (p. 210) - ‘if it no longer pleases me’, writes Stirner, ‘I 



become its foe’ (p. 211). The union constitutes a purely instrumental 
association whose good is solely the advantages that individuals derive 
from pursuit of their interests: there are no shared final ends, and 
association is not valued in itself. 

Initially this picture might appear attractive. Rather than present a 
single model of self-realization, Stirner portrays a meta-utopia of 
shifting patterns of association designed to realize our varied individ- 
ual ends without sacrifice. Moreover, Stirner occasionally suggests 
that some familiar and worthwhile relationships - for example, love - 
can survive the transfer into egoistic instrumentalism. However, there 
are grounds for scepticism about both the continuance of these cus- 
tomary relationships and the appearance of pluralism in the epoch of 

Take Stirner’s distinction between two kinds of love: an egoistic 
love which does not involve the sacrifice of our autonomy, and the 
‘bad case’ (p. 258) where ownness is sacrificed. Egoistic love allows 
us to deny ourselves something for the enhancement of another’s 
pleasure, but only because our pleasure and happiness are enhanced 
as a result. The object of egoistic love, in other words, remains one- 
self; the egoist loves only as long as ‘love makes me happy’ (p. 258), 
and cannot sacrifice her autonomy and interests to another, but must 
‘remain an egoist and - enjoy him’ (pp. 257-8). But, however familiar 
this experience might be, and however much someone who acted in 
this way might look as if she loved the other person, it conflicts with 
any understanding of loving as including the desire to promote 
another person’s good, their wants and needs and self-evaluation, 
even when that may not be in our own interests or when it may 
conflict with our other wants or our own happiness. The point is not 
terminological - Stirner rightly cares little whether we call egoistic 
love ‘love’ and ‘hence stick to the old sound’ (p. 261) or whether we 
invent a new vocabulary - but rather that a world without this experi- 
ence would be an unfamiliar and impoverished one. 

The relationship between the egoist and all her objects is charac- 
terized by Stirner as a property relation: the egoist as ‘owner’, it 
seems, stands in a proprietorial relation to the world. However, 
modern juridical notions of property, for example as a sophisticated 
complex of incidents attached to ownership, are of little use in elucid- 
ating Stimer’s meaning. Stirner sharply distinguishes ‘egoistic prop- 
erty’ from both private property and collective forms of ownership as 



traditionally understood. These ‘civic’ and ‘collective’ forms of prop- 
erty rest on notions of right, and include claims to exclusivity and 
constraints on (or liabilities attached to) use, which Stirner rejects. 
Egoistic property is rather constituted by ‘ unlimited dominion ’ (p. 223), 
an unqualified effective control; ‘ my property’, he writes, is ‘nothing 
but what is in my power ’ (p. 227). Even in those cases where you also 
claim ownership over an object, it ‘remain[s] mine nonetheless’ 
(p. 302). Egoistic property here seems to collapse into a notion of 
instrumental treatment, and when Stirner talks of the egoist being 
‘owner’ of the world it seems simply to indicate the absence of obli- 
gations on the egoist - a bleak and uncompromising vision, that he 
captures in an appropriately alimentary image: 

Where the world comes in my way - and it comes in my way 
everywhere - I consume it to quiet the hunger of my egoism. 

For me you are nothing but - my food, even as I too am fed 
upon and turned to use by you. We have only one relation to 
each other, that of usableness , of utility, of use. We owe each other 
nothing, (p. 263) 

The consequences of Stirner’s rejection of all obligations to others 
are stark. The institution of promising is an early victim: the egoist 
must break ‘even his oath’, writes Stirner, ‘in order to determine 
himself instead of being determined’ (p. 210). Rights are also 
rejected, on the basis of their contestable and external foundations 
(whether in God, nature, or human well-being), their superfluity 
(where they express actual relationships based on power), their 
reflection of wishful thinking (where they are unrealized), and, above 
all, their incompatibility (in generating duties) with ‘ownness’. For the 
egoist, there are no rules for resolving conflicts between competing 
interests, and no constraints, other than autonomy, on the pursuit of 
her own enjoyment. Stirner does not shy away from the consequences 
of this rejection of any notion of respect for persons, and he accepts 
explicitly that incest, infanticide, and murder cannot be ruled out; 
l my satisfaction' , he disarmingly concludes, ‘decides about my relation 
to men, and ... I do not renounce, from any fit of humility, even the 
power over life and death’ (p. 282). 

As Stirner’s own meiotic prediction has it ‘very few’ of us will 
‘draw joy’ (p. 263) from this picture. The pluralism of his portrait of 
egoistic association, like the plausibility of his suggestion that familiar 
relationships would survive within his conception of others as ‘mater- 



ial for enjoyment ’ (p. 281), is more apparent than real, undermined, 
not least, by his hostility to any values which conflict with ‘ownness’. 
But this charge of neglecting the ‘weal’ of his readers, is unlikely to 
have troubled Stirner. Discussing his own authorial intention, Stimer 
acknowledged that he saw humankind as ‘fretted in dark superstition’ 
(p. 262), but denied that he sought their enlightenment and welfare; 
had that been his concern, Stirner confided that he would have had 
to conceal rather than publish The Ego and Its Own : 

Do I write out of love to men? No, I write because I want to 
procure for my thoughts an existence in the world; and even if I 
foresaw that these thoughts would deprive you of your rest and 
your peace, even if I saw the bloodiest wars and the fall of many 
generations springing up from this seed of thought - I would 
nonetheless scatter it. Do with it what you will and can, that is 
your affair and does not trouble me. (pp. 262-3) 












Principal events in Stimer’s life 

October : Bom (25th) Johann Caspar Schmidt in Bay- 
reuth, to lower-middle-class Lutheran parents. 

April. Father died. 

April Mother remarried and moved to Culm. 

December : Sister bom. 

September: Sister died. 

■26 Stirner attended prestigious Gymnasium at Bayreuth, 
living with his father’s sister and her husband (his 
godfather) who were themselves childless. 

October : Enrolled in the philosophy faculty at the Univer- 
sity of Berlin (attended lectures by Schleiermacher, 
Marheineke, and Hegel). 

October : Moved to the University of Erlangen (partly for 
financial reasons). 

November : Moved to the University of Konigsberg. This 
was only a nominal attachment (he attended no lectures, 
devoting time instead to ‘family affairs’ - a euphemism 
for his mother’s deteriorating mental condition). 
November : Returned to Berlin to qualify as a teacher 
(attended lectures by Michelet). 

March : Completed his formal studies at the University 
of Berlin. 

January : Stirner’s mother was committed as insane to 
Die Charite hospital in Berlin (in 1837 she moved to a 
private mental hospital and lived until March 1859). 
April Delayed by illness, Stirner eventually took his oral 


Principal events in Stimer’s life 












exams in the subjects he intended to teach, but was 
awarded only the conditional facultas docendi and was 
rejected as a Gymnasiallehrer by the Royal Brandenburg 
Commission for Schools. 

Spent an unpaid probationary year teaching at Spilleke’s 
Realschule, followed by a period of private study and 
irregular work. 

July. Stimer’s stepfather died. 

December : Married Agnes Clara Kunigunde Butz, the 
daughter of his landlady. 

August : Stirner’s first wife died giving birth to a still-born 

October: Stirner was appointed to teach literature and 
history at a respectable private girls’ school in Berlin. 
Began his association with ‘the free’ (a group of Berlin 
left Hegelians). 

Published a series of largely unexceptional journalistic 
articles and one or two longer and more prefigurative 
pieces - including The False Principles of Our Education 
(April 1842) and Art and Religion (June 1842). 

October : Married Marie Dahnhardt, an associate of ‘the 

October : Stirner left his teaching job, and a period of 
increasing financial hardship began. The Ego and Its Own 
(although dated 1845) was published (at the end of 
October) by Otto Wigand to widespread critical 

Publication, by Stirner, of ‘Stirner’s Critics’ in Wigand's 
Vierteljahrsschrift in reply to criticisms of The Ego and Its 
Own by Feuerbach, Szeliga, and Hess. 

Publication, again by Otto Wigand, of Stirner’s eight- 
volume translation of the economic writings of Adam 
Smith and Jean-Baptiste Say. 

April: Marie Dahnhardt left Stirner, a man whom she 
would later claim that she ‘had neither respected . . . nor 

Publication of a reply (possibly written by Stirner under 
the pseudonym ‘G. Edward’) to Kuno Fischer’s criti- 
cisms of The Ego and Its Own. 


Principal events in S timer's life 

1 848 



Publication (anonymously) of a variety of short conven- 
tional pieces of journalism in the Journal des Oesterreich- 
ischen Lloyd. 

Published a Geschichte der Reaktion (largely consisting of 
excerpts from earlier conservative thinkers, such as 
Burke, and from contemporaries like Hengstenberg). 
Spent two brief periods (5 to 26 March 1853 and 1 
January to 4 February 1854) in a debtors’ prison in 

May: Stung by a winged insect, Stirner fell into a fever. 
June : After a partial remission, Stirner' died (25th). 


Further reading 

Intellectual background 

On left Hegelianism in general, see the excellent anthology of primary 
texts in translation edited by Lawrence S. Stepelevich, The Young 
Hegelians (Cambridge, 1983). Useful secondary sources include 
William J. Brazil, The Young Hegelians (New Haven, 1970) and John 
Edward Toews, Hegelianism (Cambridge, 1980). 

For Feuerbach, see George Eliot’s translation of The Essence of 
Christianity (New York, 1957), and The Fiery Brook: Selected Writings 
of Ludwig Feuerbach, translated and edited by Zawar Hanfi (New York, 
1972). The secondary study by Marx W. Wartofsky, Feuerbach 
(Cambridge, 1977), is indispensable. 

Lawrence Stepelevich has also written a number of useful articles 
on the intellectual context in which Stimer worked, including ‘Max 
Stirner and Ludwig Feuerbach’, Journal of the History of Ideas , 39 
(1978), pp. 451-63, and ‘Max Stirner as Hegelian’, Journal of the 
History of Ideas, 46 (1985), pp. 597-614. 

In order to get a sense of the wider social and political context, 
James J. Sheehan, German History, 1770-1866 (Oxford, 1989), can 
be recommended. 

Stirner’s life 

There is no English translation of what remains the standard biogra- 
phy of Stirner, John Henry Mackay, Max Stimer: sein Leben und sein 
Werk, first published in 1897, although there are brief derivative 
accounts in several English-language works including R. W. K. Pat- 
erson, The Nihilistic Egoist. Max Stimer (Oxford, 1971). 


Further reading 

Stirner’s writings 

Apart from The Ego and Its Own , there are only three short pieces 
by Stimer available in English translation. ‘Art and Religion’ is 
translated by Lawrence S. Stepelevich in his anthology The Young 
Hegelians . A second article, The False Principles of Our Education , 
translated by Robert R. Beebe, is edited and introduced by James 
J. Martin (Colorado Springs, 1967). Both these works, written in 
1842, predate and prefigure The Ego and Its Own . The third piece 
available in English translation is an excerpt entitled ‘Stimer’s 
Critics’, containing Stimer’s reply to Feuerbach’s review of The 
Ego and Its Own , translated by Frederick M. Gordon in a special 
issue of The Philosophical Forum , 8 (1978). The standard German 
edition of Stimer’s minor writings remains the collection put 
together by John Henry Mackay, Max Stimer, Kleinere Schriften 
und seine Entgegnungen auf die Kritik seines Werkes: ‘Der Einzige und 
sein Eigentum\ and first published in 1897. 

The Ego and Its Own 

John P. Clark provides an interesting critical account of some 
major themes in Stimer’s text in his rather short but still useful 
Max Stimer’s Egoism (London, 1976). More opaque, and facetious, 
but nonetheless fascinating, is Marx’s extensive commentary in 
Part Three (‘Saint Max’) of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Ihe 
German Ideology , published as volume 5 of their Collected Works 
(London, 1976). 

Stimer’s influence 

R. W. K. Paterson, in The Nihilistic Egoist , has useful discussions 
of Stimer’s work in relation to anarchism, Nietzsche, and existen- 
tialism. N. Lobkowicz, ‘Karl Marx and Max Stimer’, in Frederick 
J. Adelmann (ed.), Demythologizing Marxism (The Hague, 1969), is 
a noteworthy account of Stimer’s place in the genesis of Marxism. 
John Carroll, Break-Out from the Crystal Palace (London, 1974), 
examines what he calls the ‘anarcho-psychological critique’ in the 
writings of Stimer, Nietzsche, and Dostoevsky. For intimations of 
Stimer’s influence on individualist anarchism in America see James 


Further reading 

J, Martin, Men Against the State. The Expositors of Individualist 
Anarchism in America , 1827-IQ08 (DeKalb, Illinois, 1953), and 
Benjamin R. Tucker’s wonderfully titled Instead of a Book. By a 
Man too Busy to Write One (New York, 1967), first published in 
1 897 . 


Note on the translation 

This translation of The Ego and Its Own was made by the American 
anarchist intellectual Steven Tracy Byington (1868-1958). A gradu- 
ate of the University of Vermont and of the Union and Oberlin 
Theological Colleges, Byington worked as a teacher, Congre- 
gationalist pastor, editor, and translator (apparently fluent in ten 
languages). His translation of Stirner’s work was first published in 
1907 and represents an heroic attempt to convey the readable yet 
idiosyncratic prose of Stirner’s original German text. I have, however, 
made a number of amendments, such as removing infelicities and 
archaisms, replacing the occasional missing sentence, and restoring 
some of the original paragraph and section breaks. For the sake of 
clarity, for example where the sense of a term of art or a word play 
might be obscured by the translation, the occasional German word 
or phrase has been included in parenthesis. Stirner’s own footnotes 
appear alphabetically at the bottom of the page, although his sparse 
and abbreviated notes have been expanded into complete references. 
I have also added endnotes, listed numerically at the end of Stirner’s 
text, most of which give biographical details of persons mentioned in 
the text. In both sets of notes, if a written work is available in trans- 
lation the English title is given, although other publication details are 
left intact; if a work is not available in translation its title is left in 
the original language. After much agonizing, and despite the lofty 
disapproval of much of the secondary literature, I have left the title 
of Stirner’s book - which was in fact chosen by Benjamin R. Tucker 
after Byington and his advisory team were unable to reach agree- 
ment - unaltered except to delete the gender of the possessive article 

Note on the translation 

(not out of ahistorical considerations of ‘political correctness’ but 
because Stirner clearly identifies the egoistic subject as prior to 
gender). DerEinzige undsein Eigentum might have been rendered The 
Unique Individual and Its Property , a translation which is both more 
literal and avoids the potentially distracting psychoanalytical conno- 
tations of the Tucker- Byington alternative. However, The Ego and Its 
Own is succinct, striking, and, to an extent, familiar to English read- 
ers; on those grounds, together with considerations of fidelity to the 
original translation, that title has been retained. 



To my sweetheart 
Marie Dahnhardt 1 

All things are nothing to me 2 

What is not supposed to be my concern! First and foremost the good 
cause, then God’s cause, the cause of mankind, of truth, of freedom, 
of humanity, of justice; further, the cause of my people, my prince, 
my fatherland; finally, even the cause of mind 3 and a thousand other 
causes. Only my cause is never to be my concern. ‘Shame on the 
egoist who thinks only of himself!’ 

Let us look and see, then, how they manage their concerns, they 
for whose cause we are to labour, devote ourselves, and grow 

You have much profound information to give about God, and 
have for thousands of years ‘searched the depths of the Godhead’, 
and looked into its heart, so that you can doubtless tell us how 
God himself attends to ‘God’s cause’, which we are called to 
serve. And you do not conceal the Lord’s doings either. Now, 
what is his cause? Has he, as is demanded of us, made an alien 
cause, the cause of truth or love, his own? You are shocked by 
this misunderstanding, and you instruct us that God’s cause is 
indeed the cause of truth and love, but that this cause cannot be 
called alien to him, because God is himself truth and love; you 
are shocked by the assumption that God could be like us poor 
worms in furthering an alien cause as his own. ‘Should God take 
up the cause of truth if he were not himself truth?’ He cares only 
for his cause, but, because he is all in all, therefore all is his 
cause! But we, we are not all in all, and our cause is altogether 
little and contemptible; therefore we must ‘serve a higher cause’. - 
Now it is clear, God cares only for what is his, busies himself 


The Ego and Its Own 

only with himself, thinks only of himself, and has only himself 
before his eyes; woe to all that is not well-pleasing to him\ He 
serves no higher person, and satisfies only himself. His cause is - 
a purely egoistic cause. 

How is it with mankind, whose cause we are to make our own? Is 
its cause that of another, and does mankind serve a higher cause? 
No, mankind looks only at itself, mankind will promote the interests 
of mankind only, mankind is its own cause. That it may develop, it 
causes nations and individuals to wear themselves out in its service, 
and, when they have accomplished what mankind needs, it throws 
them on the dung-heap of history in gratitude. Is not mankind’s 
cause - a purely egoistic cause? 

I have no need to take up each thing that wants to throw its cause 
on us and show that it is occupied only with itself, not with us, only 
with its good, not with ours. Look at the rest for yourselves. Do truth, 
freedom, humanity, justice, desire anything else than that you grow 
enthusiastic and serve them? 

They all have an admirable time of it when they receive zealous 
homage. Just observe the nation that is defended by devoted patriots. 
The patriots fall in bloody battle or in the fight with hunger and 
want; what does the nation care for that? By the manure of their 
corpses the nation comes to ‘its bloom’! The individuals have died 
‘for the great cause of the nation’, and the nation sends some words 
of thanks af ter them and - has the profit of it. I call that a lucrative 
kind of egoism. 

But only look at that Sultan who cares so lovingly for ‘his people’. 
Is he not pure unselfishness itself, and does he not hourly sacrifice 
himself for his people? Oh, yes, for ‘his people’. Just try it; show 
yourself not as his, but as your own; for breaking away from his 
egoism you will take a trip to jail. The Sultan has set his cause on 
nothing but himself ; 4 he is to himself all in all, he is to himself the 
only one, and tolerates nobody who would dare not to be one of ‘his 

And will you not learn by these brilliant examples that the egoist 
gets on best? I for my part take a lesson from them, and propose, 
instead of further unselfishly serving those great egoists, rather to be 
the egoist myself. 

God and mankind have concerned themselves for nothing, for 
nothing but themselves. Let me then likewise concern myself for 


All things are nothing to me 

myself, who am equally with God the nothing of all others, who am 
my all, who am the only one [der Einzige ]. 

If God, if mankind, as you affirm, have substance enough in them- 
selves to be all in all to themselves, then I feel that / shall still less lack 
that, and that I shall have no complaint to make of my ‘emptiness’. I 
am not nothing in the sense of emptiness, but I am the creative 
nothing [schopferische Nichts], the nothing out of which I myself as 
creator create everything. 

Away, then, with every concern that is not altogether my concern! 
You think at least the ‘good cause’ must be my concern? What’s 
good, what’s bad? Why, I myself am my concern,. and I am neither 
good nor bad. Neither has meaning for me. 

The divine is God’s concern; the human, ‘man’s’. My concern is 
neither the divine nor the human, not the true, good, just, free, etc., 
but solely what is mine [das Meinige], and it is not a general one, but 
is - unique [einzig], as I am unique. 

Nothing is more to me than myself! 



‘Man is to man the supreme being’, says Feuerbach . 5 

‘Man has just been discovered’, says Bruno Bauer . 6 

Then let us take a more careful look at this supreme being and this 
new discovery. 


A human life 

From the moment when he catches sight of the light of the world a 
man seeks to find out himself and get hold of himself out of its con- 
fusion, in which he, with everything else, is tossed about in motley 

But everything that comes in contact with the child defends itself 
in turn against his attacks, and asserts its own persistence. 

Accordingly, because each thing cares for itself and at the same 
time comes into constant collision with other things, the combat of 
self-assertion is unavoidable. 

Victory or defeat - between the two alternatives the fate of the 
combat wavers. The victor becomes the lord , the vanquished one the 
subject, the former exercises supremacy and ‘rights of supremacy’, the 
latter fulfils in awe and deference the ‘duties of a subject’. 

But both remain enemies , and always lie in wait: they watch for 
each other’s weaknesses , children for those of their parents and parents 
for those of their children (their fear, for example); either the stick 
conquers the man, or the man conquers the stick. 

In childhood liberation takes the direction of trying to get to the 
bottom of things, to get at what is ‘behind things’; therefore we spy 
out the weak points of everybody, f or which, it is well known, children 
have a sure instinct; therefore we like to smash things, like to rum- 
mage through hidden corners, pry after what is covered up or out of 
the way, and try what we can do with everything. When we once get 
at what is behind things, we know we are safe; when, for example, 
we have got at the fact that the rod is too weak against our obduracy, 
then we no longer fear it, ‘have outgrown it’. 


The Ego and Its Own 

Behind the rod, mightier than it, stands our - obduracy, our obdu- 
rate courage. By degrees we get at what is behind everything that 
was mysterious and uncanny to us, the mysteriously dreaded might 
of the rod, the father’s stern look, etc., and behind all we find our 
ataraxia - our imperturbability, intrepidity, our counter forces, our 
odds of strength, our invincibility. Before that which formerly 
inspired in us fear and deference we no longer retreat shyly, but take 
courage. Behind everything we find our courage , our superiority; 
behind the sharp command of parents and authorities stands, after 
all, our courageous choice or our outwitting shrewdness. And the 
more we feel ourselves, the smaller appears that which before seemed 
invincible. And what is our trickery, shrewdness, courage, obduracy? 
What else but - mind [Geist]\ 

Through a considerable time we are spared a fight that is so 
exhausting later, the fight against reason. The fairest part of childhood 
passes without the necessity of coming to blows with reason. We care 
nothing at all about it, do not meddle with it, admit no reason. We 
are not to be persuaded to anything by conviction , and are deaf to 
good arguments and principles; on the other hand, coaxing, punish- 
ment, and the like are hard for us to resist. 

This stern life-and-death combat with reason enters later, and 
begins a new phase; in childhood we scamper about without racking 
our brains much. 

Mind is the name of the first self-discovery, the first undeification 
of the divine; that is, of the uncanny, the spooks, the ‘powers above’. 
Our fresh feeling of youth, this feeling of self, now defers to nothing; 
the world is discredited, for we are above it, we are mind. 

Now for the first time we see that hitherto we have not looked at 
the world intelligently [ mit Geist ] at all, but only stared at it. 

We exercise the beginnings of our strength on natural powers. We 
defer to parents as a natural power; later we say: father and mother 
are to be forsaken, all natural power to be counted as riven. They 
are vanquished. For the rational, the ‘intellectual [Geistigen] man’, 
there is no family as a natural power; a renunciation of parents, 
brothers, etc., makes its appearance. If these are ‘born again’ as intel- 
lectual , rational powers, they are no longer at all what they were before. 

And not only parents, but adults in general , are conquered by the 
young man; they are no hindrance to him, and are no longer 
regarded; for now he says: One must obey God rather than men . 7 


A human life 

From this high standpoint everything ‘ earthly ’ recedes into con- 
temptible remoteness; for the standpoint is - the heavenly. 

The attitude is now altogether reversed; the youth takes up an 
intellectual position, while the boy, who did not yet feel himself as 
mind, grew up on mindless learning. The former does not try to get 
hold of things (for instance, to get into his head the data of history), 
but of the thoughts that lie hidden in things, and so, therefore, of the 
spirit of history. On the other hand, the boy understands connections 
no doubt, but not ideas, the spirit; therefore he strings together what- 
ever can be learned, without proceeding a priori and theoretically, 
without looking for ideas. 

As in childhood one had to overcome the resistance of the laws of 
the world , so now in everything that he proposes he is met by an 
objection of the mind, of reason, of his own conscience. ‘That is 
unreasonable, un- Christian, unpatriotic’, and the like, cries con- 
science to us, and - frightens us away from it. Not the might of the 
avenging Eumenides , 8 not Poseidon’s 9 wrath, not God, far as he sees 
the hidden, not the father’s rod of punishment, do we fear, but - 

We ‘run after our thoughts’ now, and follow their commands just 
as before we followed parental, human ones. Our course of action is 
determined by our thoughts (ideas, conceptions,^'^) as it is in child- 
hood by the commands of our parents. 

For all that, we were already thinking when we were children, only 
our thoughts were not fleshless, abstract, absolute , that is, nothing 
but thoughts, a heaven in themselves, a pure world of thoughts, 
logical thoughts. 

On the contrary, they had been only thoughts that we had about 
a thing ; we thought of the thing so or so. Thus we may have thought 
‘God made the world that we see there’, but we did not think of 
(‘search’) the ‘depths of the Godhead itself’; we may have thought 
‘that is the truth about the matter’, but we do not think of truth 
itself, nor unite into one sentence ‘God is truth’. The ‘depths of the 
Godhead, who is truth’, we did not touch. Over such purely logical 
(theological) questions, ‘What is truth?’, Pilate 10 does not stop, though 
he does not therefore hesitate to ascertain in an individual case ‘what 
truth there is in the thing’, whether the thing is true. 

Any thought bound to a thing is not yet nothing but a thought , 
absolute thought. 


The Ego and Its Own 

To bring to light the pure thought , or to be of its party, is the delight 
of youth; and all the shapes of light in the world of thought, like 
truth, freedom, humanity, man, inspire and enthuse the youthful soul. 

But, when the spirit is recognized as the essential thing, it still 
makes a difference whether the spirit is poor or rich, and therefore 
one seeks to become rich in spirit; the spirit wants to spread out so 
as to found its empire, an empire that is not of this world, the world 
just conquered. Thus, then, it longs to become all in all to itself; for, 
although I am spirit, I am not yet perfected spirit, and must first seek 
the complete spirit. 

But with that I, who had just now found myself as spirit, lose 
myself again at once, bowing before the complete spirit as one not 
my own but supernal \jenseitigen], and feeling my emptiness. 

Spirit is the essential point for everything, to be sure; but then is 
every spirit the ‘right’ spirit? The right and true spirit is the ideal of 
spirit, the ‘Holy Spirit’. It is not my or your spirit, but just - an ideal, 
supernal one, it is ‘God’. ‘God is spirit.’ And this supernal ‘Father 
in heaven gives it to those that pray to him’. fl 

The man is distinguished from the youth by the fact that he takes 
the world as it is, instead of everywhere fancying it amiss and wanting 
to improve it, model it after his ideal; in him the view that one must 
deal with the world according to his interest , not according to his 
ideals , becomes confirmed. 

So long as one knows himself only as spirit , and feels that all the 
value of his existence consists in being spirit (it becomes easy for the 
youth to give his life, the ‘bodily life’, for a nothing, for the silliest 
point of honour), so long it is only thoughts that one has, ideas that 
he hopes to be able to realize some day when he has found a sphere 
of action; thus one has meanwhile only ideals, unexecuted ideas or 

Not until one has fallen in love with his corporeal self, and takes a 
pleasure in himself as a living flesh-and-blood person - but it is in 
mature years, in the man, that we find it so - not until then has one 
a personal or egoistic [egoistisches] interest, an interest not only of our 
spirit, for instance, but of total satisfaction, satisfaction of the whole 
chap, a selfish [eigenniitziges] interest. Just compare a man with a youth, 
and see if he will not appear to you harder, less magnanimous, more 

‘ Luke 11:13. 


A human life 

selfish. Is he therefore worse? No, you say; he has only become more 
definite, or, as you also call it, more ‘practical’. But the main point 
is this, that he makes himself more the centre than does the youth, 
who is infatuated about other things, for example, God, fatherland, 
and so on. 

Therefore the man shows a second self-discovery. The youth found 
himself as spirit and lost himself again in the general spirit, the com- 
plete, holy spirit, man, mankind, in short, all ideals; the man finds 
himself as embodied spirit. 

Boys had only unintellectual interests (those interests devoid of 
thoughts and ideas); youths only intellectual ones; the man has bodily, 
personal, egoistic interests. 

If the child has not an object that it can occupy itself with, it feels 
ennui; for it does not yet know how to occupy itself with itself The 
youth, on the contrary, throws the object aside, because for him 
thoughts arose out of the object; he occupies himself with his thoughts, 
his dreams, occupies himself intellectually, or ‘his mind is occupied’. 

The young man includes everything not intellectual under the con- 
temptuous name of ‘externalities’. If he nevertheless sticks to the 
most trivial externalities (such as the customs of students’ clubs and 
other formalities), 11 it is because, and when, he discovers mind in 
them, when they are symbols to him. 

As I find myself behind things, and that as mind, so I must later 
find myself also behind thoughts , namely, as their creator and owner 
[Schopfer und Eigner\. In the time of spirits thoughts grew until they 
overtopped my head, whose offspring they yet were; they hovered 
about me and convulsed me like fever-phantasies, an awful power. 
The thoughts had become corporeal on their own account, were 
ghosts, such as God, emperor, Pope, fatherland, etc. If I destroy their 
corporeity, then I take them back into mine, and say: ‘I alone am 
corporeal’. And now I take the world as what it is to me, as mine , as 
my property [Eigentum]; I refer all to myself. 

If as spirit I had thrust away the world in the deepest contempt, 
so as owner I thrust spirits or ideas away into their ‘vanity’. They 
have no longer any power over me, as no ‘earthly might’ has power 
over the spirit. 

The child was realistic, taken up with the things of this world, 
until little by little he succeeded in getting at what was behind these 
very things; the youth was idealistic, inspired by thoughts, until he 


The Ego and Its Own 

worked his way up to where he became the man, the egoistic man, 
who deals with things and thoughts according to his heart’s pleasure, 
and sets his personal interest above everything. Finally, the old man? 
When I become one, there will still be time enough to speak of that. 


Men of the old time and the new 

How each of us developed himself, what he strove for, attained, or 
missed, what objects he formerly pursued and what plans and wishes 
his heart is now set on, what transf ormation his views have experi- 
enced, what perturbations his principles - in short, how he has today 
become what yesterday or years ago he was not - this he brings out 
again from his memory with more or less ease, and he feels with 
particular vividness what changes have taken place in himself when 
he has before his eyes the unrolling of another’s life. 

Let us therefore look into the activities our forefathers busied 
themselves with. 

i The ancients 

Custom having once given the name of ‘the ancients’ to our pre- 
Christian ancestors, we will not throw it up against them that, in 
comparison with us experienced people, they ought properly to be 
called children, but will rather continue to honour them as our good 
old fathers. But how have they come to be antiquated, and who could 
displace them through his pretended newness? 

We know, of course, the revolutionary innovator and disrespectful 
heir, who even took away the sanctity of the fathers’ sabbath to hallow 
his Sunday, and interrupted the course of time to begin at himself 
with a new chronology; we know him, and know that it is - the 
Christian. But does he remain forever young, and is he today still 
the new man, or will he too be superseded, as he has superseded the 


The Ego and Its Own 

The fathers must doubtless have themselves begotten the young 
one who entombed them. Let us then eavesdrop on this act of 

‘To the ancients the world was a truth’, says Feuerbach, but he 
forgets to make the important addition, ‘a truth whose untruth they 
tried to get behind, and at last really did’. What is meant by those 
words of Feuerbach will be easily recognized if they are put alongside 
the Christian thesis of the ‘vanity and transitoriness of the world’. 
For, as the Christian can never convince himself of the vanity of the 
divine word, but believes in its eternal and unshakeable truth, which, 
the more its depths are searched, must all the more brilliantly come 
to light and triumph, so the ancients on their side lived in the feeling 
that the world and mundane relations (such as the natural ties of 
blood) were the truth before which their powerless ‘I’ must bow. The 
very thing on which the ancients set the highest value is spurned by 
Christians as the valueless, and what they recognized as truth these 
brand as idle lies; the high significance of the fatherland disappears, 
and the Christian must regard himself as ‘a stranger on earth’;* the 
sanctity of funeral rites, from which sprang a work of art like the 
Antigone of Sophocles , 12 is designated as a paltry thing (‘let the dead 
bury their dead ’); 13 the infrangible truth of family ties is represented 
as an untruth which one cannot promptly enough get clear of;* and 
so in everything. 

If we now see that to the two sides opposite things appear as truth, 
to one the natural, to the other the intellectual, to one earthly things 
and relations, to the other heavenly (the heavenly fatherland, ‘Jerusa- 
lem that is above,’ etc.), it still remains to be considered how the new 
time and that undeniable reversal could come out of antiquity. But 
the ancients themselves worked toward making their truth a lie. 

Let us plunge at once into the midst of the most brilliant years of 
the ancients, into the Periclean century . 14 Then the Sophistic culture 
was spreading, and Greece made a pastime of what had hitherto been 
to her a monstrously serious matter. 

The fathers had been enslaved by the undisturbed power of exist- 
ing things too long for posterity not to have to learn by bitter experi- 
ence to feel themselves. Therefore the Sophists , 15 with courageous 

* Hebrews 11:13. * Mark 10:29. 


Men of the old time and the new 

impertinence, pronounce the reassuring words, ‘don’t be surprised!’ 
and diffuse the rationalistic doctrine, ‘use your understanding, your 
wit, your mind, against everything; it is by having a good and well- 
drilled understanding that one gets through the world best, provides 
for himself the best lot, the pleasantest life'. Thus they recognize in 
mind man’s true weapon against the world. This is why they lay such 
stress on dialectic skill, command of language, the art of disputation, 
etc. They announce that mind is to be used against everything; but 
they are still far removed from the holiness of the spirit, for to them 
it is a means , a weapon, as trickery and defiance serve children for 
the same purpose; their mind is the unbribeable understanding. 

Today we should call that a one-sided culture of the understand- 
ing, and add the warning, ‘cultivate not only your understanding, but 
also, and especially, your heart’. Socrates 16 did the same. For, if the 
heart did not become free from its natural impulses, but remained 
filled with the most fortuitous contents and, as an uncriticized avidity , 
altogether in the power of things, nothing but a vessel of the most 
various appetites - then it was unavoidable that the free understanding 
must serve the ‘bad heart’ and was ready to justify everything that 
the wicked heart desired. 

Therefore Socrates says that it is not enough for one to use his 
understanding in all things, but it is a question of what cause one 
exerts it for. We should now say, one must serve the ‘good cause’. 
But serving the good cause is - being moral. Hence Socrates is the 
founder of ethics. 

Certainly the principle of the Sophistic doctrine must lead to the 
possibility that the blindest and most dependent slave of his desires 
might yet be an excellent sophist, and, with keen understanding, trim 
and expound everything in favour of his coarse heart. What could 
there be for which a ‘good reason’ might not be found, or which 
might not be defended through thick and thin? 

Therefore Socrates says: ‘You must be “pure-hearted” if your 
shrewdness is to be valued’. At this point begins the second period 
of Greek liberation of the mind, the period of purity of heart. For the 
first was brought to a close by the Sophists in their proclaiming the 
omnipotence of the understanding. But the heart remained worldly 
minded , remained a servant of the world, always affected by worldly 
wishes. This coarse heart was to be cultivated from now on: the era 
of culture of the heart. But how is the heart to be cultivated? What the 


The Ego and Its Own 

understanding, this one side of the mind, has reached - namely, the 
capability of playing freely with and over every concern - awaits the 
heart also; everything worldly must come to grief before it, so that at 
last family, commonwealth, fatherland, and the like, are given up for 
the sake of the heart, that is, of blessedness , the heart’s blessedness. 

Daily experience confirms the truth that the understanding may 
have renounced a thing many years before the heart has ceased to 
beat for it. So the Sophistic understanding too had so far become 
master over the dominant, ancient powers that they now needed only 
to be driven out of the heart, in which they dwelt unmolested, to 
have at last no part at all left in man. 

This war is opened by Socrates, and not until the dying day of the 
old world does it end in peace. 

The examination of the heart takes its start with Socrates, and all the 
contents of the heart are sifted. In their last and extremest struggles the 
ancients threw all contents out of the heart and let it no longer beat for 
anything; this was the deed of the Sceptics . 17 The same purgation of 
the heart was now achieved in the Sceptical age, as the understanding 
had succeeded in establishing in the Sophistic age. 

The Sophistic culture has brought it to pass that one’s understand- 
ing no longer stands still before anything, and the Sceptical, that his 
heart is no longer moved by anything. 

So long as man is entangled in the movements of the world and 
embarrassed by relations to the world - and he is so until the end of 
antiquity, because his heart still has to struggle for independence 
from the worldly - so long he is not yet spirit; for spirit is without 
body, and has no relations to the world and corporeality; for it the 
world does not exist, nor natural bonds, but only the spiritual, and 
spiritual bonds. Therefore man must first become so completely 
unconcerned and reckless, so altogether without relations, as the 
Sceptical culture presents him - so altogether indifferent to the world 
that even its falling in ruins would not move him - before he could 
feel himself as worldless; that is, as spirit. And this is the result of 
the gigantic work of the ancients: that man knows himself as a being 
without relations and without a world, as spirit. 

Only now, after all worldly care has left him, is he all in all to 
himself, is he only for himself, is he spirit for the spirit, or, in plainer 
language, he cares only for the spiritual. 


Men of the old time and the new 

In the Christian wisdom of serpents and innocence of doves , 18 the 
two sides - understanding and heart - of the ancient liberation of 
mind are so completed that they appear young and new again, and 
neither the one nor the other lets itself be surprised any longer by 
the worldly and natural. 

Thus the ancients mounted to spirit , and strove to become spiritual. 
But a man who wishes to be active as spirit is drawn to quite other 
tasks than he was able to set himself formerly: to tasks which really 
give something to do to the spirit and not to mere sense [Sinne] or 
acuteness [Scharfsinn], which exerts itself only to become master of 
things. The spirit busies itself solely about the spiritual, and seeks out 
the ‘traces of mind’ in everything; to the believing spirit ‘everything 
comes from God’, and interests him only to the extent that it reveals 
this origin; to the philosophic spirit everything appears with the stamp 
of reason, and interests him only so far as he is able to discover in 
it reason, that is, spiritual content. 

Not the spirit, then, which has to do with absolutely nothing 
unspiritual, with no thing, but only with the essence which exists 
behind and above things, with thoughts - not that did the ancients 
exert, for they did not yet have it; no, they had only reached the point 
of struggling and longing for it, and therefore sharpened [ scharften ] it 
against their too-powerful foe, the world of sense (but what would 
not have been sensuous for them, since Jehovah or the gods of the 
heathen were yet far removed from the conception ‘God is spirit', 
since the ‘heavenly fatherland’ had not yet stepped into the place of 
the sensuous, etc.?), they sharpened against the world of sense their 
sense , their acuteness. To this day the Jews, those precocious children 
of antiquity, have got no further; and with all the subtlety and strength 
of their prudence and understanding, which easily becomes master 
of things and forces them to obey it, they cannot discover spirit, which 
takes no account whatever of things. 

The Christian has spiritual interests, because he allows himself to 
be a spiritual man; the Jew does not even understand these interests 
in their purity, because he does not allow himself to assign no value 
to things. He does not arrive at pure spirituality , a spirituality such 
as is religiously expressed, for instance, in the faith of Christians, 
which alone (without works) justifies. Their unspirituality sets Jews 
forever apart from Christians; for the spiritual man is incomprehen- 


The Ego and Its Own 

sible to the unspiritual, as the unspiritual is contemptible to the spiri- 
tual. But the Jews have only ‘the spirit of this world’. 

The ancient acuteness and profundity lies as far from the spirit 
and the spirituality of the Christian world as earth from heaven. 

He who feels himself as free spirit is not oppressed and made 
anxious by the things of this world, because he does not care for 
them; if one is still to feel their burden, he must be narrow enough 
to attach weight to them, as is evidently the case, for instance, when 
one is still concerned for his ‘dear life’. He to whom everything 
centres in knowing and conducting himself as a free spirit gives little 
heed to how scantily he is supplied meanwhile, and does not reflect 
at all on how he must make his arrangements to have a thoroughly 
free or enjoyable life. He is not disturbed by the inconveniences of 
the life that depends on things, because he lives only spiritually and 
on spiritual food, while aside from this he only gulps things down 
like a beast, hardly knowing it, and dies bodily, to be sure, when his 
fodder gives out, but knows himself immortal as spirit, and closes his 
eyes with an adoration or a thought. His life is occupation with the 
spiritual, is - thinking, the rest does not bother him; let him busy 
himself with the spiritual in any way that he can and chooses - in 
devotion, in contemplation, or in philosophic cognition - his doing 
is always thinking; and therefore Descartes, 19 to whom this had at 
last become quite clear, could lay down the proposition: ‘I think, that 
is - 1 am’. This means, my thinking is my being or my life; only when 
I live spiritually do I live; only as spirit am I really, or - I am spirit 
through and through and nothing but spirit. Unlucky Peter Schle- 
mihl, 20 who has lost his shadow, is the portrait of this man become 
a spirit; for the spirit’s body is shadowless. - Over against this, how 
different among the ancients! Stoutly and manfully as they might bear 
themselves against the might of things, they must yet acknowledge the 
might itself, and got no further than to protect their life against it as 
well as possible. Only at a late hour did they recognize that their 
‘true life’ was not that which they led in the fight against the things 
of the world, but the ‘spiritual life’, ‘turned away’ from these things; 
and, when they saw this, they became Christians, the modems, and 
innovators upon the ancients. But the life turned away from things, 
the spiritual life, no longer draws any nourishment from nature, but 
‘lives only on thoughts’, and therefore is no longer ‘life’, but - 


Men of the old time and the new 

Yet it must not be supposed now that the ancients were without 
thoughts , just as the most spiritual man is not to be conceived of as 
if he could be without life. Rather, they had their thoughts about 
everything, about the world, man, the gods, etc., and showed them- 
selves keenly active in bringing all this to their consciousness. But 
they did not know thought , even though they thought of all sorts of 
things and ‘worried themselves with their thoughts’. Compare with 
their position the Christian saying, ‘My thoughts are not your 
thoughts; as the heaven is higher than the earth, so are my thoughts 
higher than your thoughts ’, 21 and remember what was said above 
about our child-thoughts. 

What is antiquity seeking, then? The true enjoyment oflifel You will 
find that at bottom it is all the same as ‘the true life’. 

The Greek poet Simonides 22 sings: ‘Health is the noblest good for 
mortal man, the next to this is beauty, the third riches acquired 
without guile, the fourth the enjoyment of social pleasures in the 
company of young friends’. These are all good things of life, pleasures 
of life. What else was Diogenes of Sinope 23 seeking for than the true 
enjoyment of life, which he discovered in having the least possible 
wants? What else Aristippus , 24 who found it in a cheerful temper 
under all circumstances? They are seeking for cheerful, unclouded 
life-courage , for cheerfulness ; they are seeking to ‘be of good cheer \ 

The Stoics 25 want to realize the wise man , the man with practical 
philosophy , the man who knows how to live , a wise life therefore; they 
find him in contempt for the world, in a life without development, 
without spreading out, without friendly relations with the world, thus 
in the isolated life , in life as lif e, not in life with others; only the Stoic 
lives , all else is dead for him. The Epicureans , 26 on the contrary, 
demand a moving life. 

The ancients, as they want to be of good cheer, desire good living 
(the Jews especially a long life, blessed with children and goods), 
eudaemonia, well-being in the most various forms. Democritus , 27 for 
example, praises as such the ‘calm of the soul’ in which one dives 
smoothly, without fear and without excitement’. 

So what he thinks is that with this he gets on best, provides for 
himself the best lot, and gets through the world best. But as he cannot 
get rid of the world - and in fact cannot for the very reason that his 
whole activity is taken up in the effort to get rid of it, that is, in 
repelling the world (f or which it is yet necessary that what can be and is 


The Ego and Its Own 

repelled should remain existing, otherwise there would be no longer 
anything to repel) - he reaches at most an extreme degree of liber- 
ation, and is distinguishable only in degree from the less liberated. 
If he even got as far as the deadening of the earthly sense, which at 
last admits only the monotonous whisper of the word ‘Brahm’, he 
nevertheless would not be essentially distinguishable from the sensual 

Even the Stoic attitude and manly virtue amount only to this, that 
one must maintain and assert himself against the world; and the 
ethics of the Stoics (their only science, since they could tell nothing 
about the spirit but how it should behave toward the world, and of 
nature [physics] only this, that the wise man must assert himself 
against it) is not a doctrine of the spirit, but only a doctrine of the 
repelling of the world and of self-assertion against the world. And 
this consists in ‘imperturbability and equanimity of life’, and so in 
the most explicit Roman virtue. 

The Romans too (Horace , 28 Cicero , 29 and others) went no further 
than this practical philosophy. 

The comfort ( hedonE °) of the Epicureans is the same practical philos- 
ophy the Stoics teach, only trickier, more deceitful. They teach only 
another behaviour toward the world, exhort us only to take a shrewd 
attitude toward the world; the world must be deceived, for it is my 

The break with the world is completely carried through by the 
Sceptics. My entire relation to the world is ‘worthless and truthless’. 
Timon 31 says, ‘The feelings and thoughts which we draw from the 
world contain no truth’. ‘What is truth?’ cries Pilate. According to 
Pyrrho’s 32 doctrine the world is neither good nor bad, neither beauti- 
ful nor ugly, but these are predicates which I give it. Timon says that 
‘in itself nothing is either good or bad, but man only thinks of it thus 
or thus’; to face the world only ataraxia (unmovedness) and aphasia 
(speechlessness - or, in other words, isolated inwardness) are left. 
There is ‘no longer any truth to be recognized’ in the world; things 
contradict themselves; thoughts about things are without distinction 
(good and bad are all the same, so that what one calls good another 
finds bad); here the recognition of ‘truth’ is at an end, and only the 
man without power of recognition , the man who finds in the world 
nothing to recognize, is left, and this man just leaves the truth-vacant 
world where it is and takes no account of it. 


Men of the old time and the new 

So antiquity finishes with the world of things , the order of the world, 
the world as a whole; but to the order of the world, or the things of 
this world, belong not only nature, but all relations in which man 
sees himself placed by nature, as in the family, the community, in 
short the so-called ‘natural bonds’. With the world of the spirit Chris- 
tianity then begins. The man who still faces the world armed is the 
ancient, the - heathen (to which class the Jew, too, as non-Christian, 
belongs); the man who has come to be led by nothing but his ‘heart’s 
pleasure’, the interest he takes, his fellow-feeling, his - spirit , is the 
modern, the - Christian. 

As the ancients worked toward the conquest of the world and strove 
to release man from the heavy trammels of connection with other 
things , at last they came also to the dissolution of the state and giving 
preference to everything private. Of course community, family, and 
so forth, as natural relations, are burdensome hindrances which dim- 
inish my spiritual freedom. 

2 The moderns [Die Neuen ] 

‘If any man be in Christ, he is a new [neue] creature ; the old is passed 
away, behold, all is become new. ,a 

As it was said above, ‘to the ancients the world was a truth’, we 
must say here, ‘to the moderns the spirit was a truth’; but here, as 
there, we must not omit the supplement: ‘a truth whose untruth they 
tried to get behind, and at last they really do’. 

A course similar to that which antiquity took may be demonstrated 
in Christianity also, in that the understanding was held a prisoner 
under the dominion of the Christian dogmas up to the time prepara- 
tory to the Reformation, but in the pre-Reformation century asserted 
itself sophistically and played heretical pranks with all tenets of the 
faith. And the talk then was, especially in Italy and at the Roman 
court: ‘If only the heart remains Christian-minded, the understanding 
may continue taking its pleasure’. 

Long before the Reformation, people were so thoroughly accus- 
tomed to fine-spun ‘wranglings’ that the Pope, and most others, 
looked on Luther’s 33 appearance too as a mere ‘wrangling of monks’ 
at first. Humanism corresponds to Sophisticism, and, as in the time 

“ 2 Corinthians 5: 17. 


The Ego and Its Own 

of the Sophists Greek life stood in its fullest bloom (the Periclean 
age), so the most brilliant things happened in the time of Humanism, 
or, as one might perhaps also say, of Machiavellianism 34 (printing, 
the New World, etc.). At this time the heart was still far from wanting 
to relieve itself of its Christian contents. 

But finally the Reformation, like Socrates, took hold seriously of 
the heart itself, and since then hearts have kept growing visibly - 
more un-Christian. As with Luther people began to take the matter 
to heart, the outcome of this step of the Reformation must be that 
the heart also gets lightened of the heavy burden of Christian faith. 
The heart, from day to day more un-Christian, loses the contents 
with which it had busied itself, until at last nothing but empty warm- 
heartedness is left it, the quite general love of men, the love of man , 
the consciousness of freedom, ‘self-consciousness’. 

Only so is Christianity complete, because it has become bald, with- 
ered, and void of contents. There are now no contents whatever 
against which the heart does not mutiny, unless indeed the heart 
unconsciously or without ‘self-consciousness’ lets them slip in. The 
heart criticizes to death with hard-hearted mercilessness everything that 
wants to make its way in, and is capable (except, as before, uncon- 
sciously or taken by surprise) of no friendship, no love. What could 
there be in men to love, since they are all alike ‘egoists’, none of 
them man as such, none are spirit only ? The Christian loves only the 
spirit; but where could one be found who should be really nothing 
but spirit? 

To have a liking for the corporeal man with hide and hair, why, 
that would no longer be a ‘spiritual’ warm-heartedness, it would be 
treason against ‘pure’ warm-heartedness, the ‘theoretical regard’. For 
pure warm-heartedness is by no means to be conceived as like that 
kindliness that gives everybody a friendly handshake; on the contrary, 
pure warm-heartedness is warm-hearted toward nobody, it is only a 
theoretical interest, concern for man as man, not as a person. The 
person is repulsive to it because of being ‘egoistic’, because of not 
being that abstraction, man. But it is only for the abstraction that one 
can have a theoretical regard. To pure warm-heartedness or pure 
theory men exist only to be criticized, scoffed at, and thoroughly 
despised; to it, no less than to the fanatical cleric, they are only ‘filth’ 
and other such fine things. 


Men of the old time and the new 

Pushed to this extremity of disinterested warm-heartedness, we 
must finally become conscious that the spirit, which alone the Chris- 
tian loves, is nothing; in other words, that the spirit is - a lie. 

What has here been set down roughly, summarily, and doubtless 
as yet incomprehensibly, will, it is to be hoped, become clear as we 
go on. 

Let us take up the inheritance left by the ancients, and, as active 
workmen, do with it as much as - can be done with it! The world 
lies despised at our feet, far beneath us and our heaven, into which 
its mighty arms are no longer thrust and its stupefying breath does 
not come. Seductively as it may pose, it can delude nothing but our 
sense ; it cannot lead astray the spirit - and spirit alone, after all, we 
really are. Having once got behind things, the spirit has also got above 
them, and become free from their bonds, emancipated, supernal, 
free. So speaks ‘spiritual freedom’. 

To the spirit which, after long toil, has got rid of the world, the 
worldless spirit, nothing is left after the loss of the world and the 
worldly but - the spirit and the spiritual. 

Yet, as it has only moved away from the world and made of itself 
a being free from the world , without being able really to annihilate the 
world, this remains to it a stumbling-block that cannot be cleared 
away, a discredited existence; and, as, on the other hand, it knows 
and recognizes nothing but the spirit and the spiritual, it must per- 
petually carry about with it the longing to spiritualize the world, to 
redeem it from the ‘blacklist’. Therefore, like a youth, it goes about 
with plans for the redemption or improvement of the world. 

The ancients, we saw, served the natural, the worldly, the natural 
order of the world, but they incessantly asked this service of them- 
selves; and, when they had tired themselves to death in ever-renewed 
attempts at revolt, then, among their last sighs, was born to them the 
God , the ‘conqueror of the world’. All their doing had been nothing 
but wisdom of the world, an effort to get behind the world and above 
it. And what is the wisdom of the many following centuries? What 
did the moderns try to get behind? No longer to get behind the world, 
for the ancients had accomplished that; but behind the God whom 
the ancients bequeathed to them, behind the God who ‘is spirit’, 
behind everything that is the spirit’s, the spiritual. But the activity of 
the spirit, which ‘searches even the depth of the Godhead’, is theology. 


The Ego and Its Own 

If the ancients have nothing to show but wisdom of the world, the 
moderns never did nor do make their way further than to theology. 
We shall see later that even the newest revolts against God are 
nothing but the extremest efforts of ‘theology’, that is, theological 

§ i The spirit 

The realm of spirits is monstrously great, there is an infinite deal of 
the spiritual; yet let us look and see what the spirit, this bequest of 
the ancients, properly is. 

Out of their birth-pangs it came forth, but they themselves could 
not utter themselves as spirit; they could give birth to it, it itself must 
speak. The ‘born God, the Son of Man’, is the first to utter the word 
that the spirit, he, God, has to do with nothing earthly and no earthly 
relationship, but solely with the spirit and spiritual relationships. 

Is my courage, indestructible under all the world’s blows, my 
inflexibility and my obduracy, perchance already spirit in the full 
sense, because the world cannot touch it? Why, then it would not yet 
be at enmity with the world, and all its action would consist merely 
in not succumbing to the world! No, so long as it does not busy itself 
with itself alone, so long as it does not have to do with its world, the 
spiritual, alone, it is not free spirit, but only the ‘spirit of this world’, 
the spirit fettered to it. The spirit is free spirit, that is, really spirit, 
only in a world of its own ; in ‘this’, the earthly world, it is a stranger. 
Only through a spiritual world is the spirit really spirit, for ‘this’ world 
does not understand it and does not know how to keep ‘the maiden 
from a foreign land ’ 35 from departing. 

But where is it to get this spiritual world? Where but out of itself? 
It must reveal itself; and the words that it speaks, the revelations in 
which it unveils itself, these are its world. As a visionary lives and 
has his world only in the visionary pictures that he himself creates, 
as a crazy man generates for himself his own dream-world, without 
which he could not be crazy, so the spirit must create for itself its 
spirit-world, and is not spirit until it creates it. 

Thus its creations make it spirit, and by its creatures we know it, 
the creator; in them it lives, they are its world. 

Now, what is the spirit? It is the creator of a spiritual world! Even 
in you and me people do not recognize spirit until they see that we 


Men of the old time and the new 

have appropriated to ourselves something spiritual; though thoughts 
may have been set before us, we have at least brought them to live 
in ourselves; for, as long as we were children, the most edifying 
thoughts might have been laid before us without our wishing, or 
being able, to reproduce them in ourselves. So the spirit also exists 
only when it creates something spiritual; it is real only together with 
the spiritual, its creature. 

As, then, we know it by its works, the question is what these works 
are. But the works or children of the spirit are nothing else but - 

If I had before me Jews, Jews of the true metal, I should have to 
stop here and leave them standing before this mystery as for almost 
two thousand years they have remained standing before it, unbeliev- 
ing and without knowledge. But as you, my dear reader, are at least 
not a full-blooded Jew - for such a one will not go astray as far as 
this - we will still go along a bit of road together, until perhaps you 
too turn your back on me because I laugh in your face. 

If somebody told you you were altogether spirit, you would take 
hold of your body and not believe him, but answer: ‘I have a spirit, 
no doubt, but do not exist only as spirit, but as a man with a body’. 
You would still distinguish yourself from ‘your spirit’. ‘But’, replies 
he, ‘it is your destiny, even though now you are yet going about in 
the fetters of the body, to be one day a “blessed spirit”, and, however 
you may conceive of the future aspect of your spirit, so much is yet 
certain, that in death you will put off this body and yet keep yourself, 
your spirit, for all eternity; accordingly your spirit is the eternal and 
true in you, the body only a dwelling here below, which you may 
leave and perhaps exchange for another.’ 

Now you believe him! For the present, indeed, you are not spirit 
only; but, when you emigrate from the mortal body, as one day you 
must, then you will have to help yourself without the body, and there- 
fore it is needful that you be prudent and care in time for your proper 
self. ‘What should it profit a man if he gained the whole world and 
yet suffered damage in his soul?’ 3 * 

But, even granted that doubts, raised in the course of time against 
the tenets of the Christian faith, have long since robbed you of faith 
in the immortality of your spirit, you have nevertheless left one tenet 
undisturbed, and still ingenuously adhere to the one truth, that the 
spirit is your better part, and that the spiritual has greater claims on 


The Ego and Its Own 

you than anything else. Despite all your atheism, in zeal against egoism 
you concur with the believers in immortality. 

But whom do you think of under the name of egoist? A man who, 
instead of living to an idea, that is, a spiritual thing, and sacrificing 
to it his personal advantage, serves the latter. A good patriot brings 
his sacrifice to the altar of the fatherland; but it cannot be disputed 
that the fatherland is an idea, since for beasts incapable of mind, or 
children as yet without mind, there is no fatherland and no patriotism. 
Now, if any one does not approve himself as a good patriot, he betrays 
his egoism with reference to the fatherland. And so the matter stands 
in innumerable other cases: he who in human society takes the benefit 
of a prerogative sins egoistically against the idea of equality; he who 
exercises dominion is blamed as an egoist against the idea of liberty, 
and so on. 

You despise the egoist because he puts the spiritual in the back- 
ground as compared with the personal, and has his eyes on himself 
where you would like to see him act to favour an idea. The distinction 
between you is that he makes himself the central point, but you the 
spirit; or that you cut your identity in two and exalt your ‘proper self’, 
the spirit, to be ruler of the paltrier remainder, while he will hear 
nothing of this cutting in two, and pursues spiritual and material 
interests just as he pleases. You think, to be sure, that you are falling 
foul of those only who enter into no spiritual interest at all, but in 
fact you curse at everybody who does not look on the spiritual interest 
as his ‘true and highest’ interest. You carry your knightly service for 
this beauty so far that you affirm her to be the only beauty of the 
world. You live not to yourself, but to your spirit and to what is the 
spirit’s, that is, ideas. 

As the spirit exists only in its creating of the spiritual, let us take 
a look about us for its first creation. If only it has accomplished 
this, there follows thenceforth a natural propagation of creations, as 
according to the myth only the first human beings needed to be 
created, the rest of the race propagating of itself. The first creation, 
on the other hand, must come forth ‘out of nothing’; that is, the spirit 
has toward its realization nothing but itself, or rather it has not yet 
even itself, but must create itself; hence its first creation is itself, the 
spirit. Mystical as this sounds, we yet go through it as an everyday 
experience. Are you a thinking being before you think? In creating 
the first thought you create yourself, the thinking one; for you do not 


Men of the old time and the new 

think before you think a thought, or have a thought. Is it not your 
singing that first makes you a singer, your talking that makes you a 
talker? Now, so too it is the production of the spiritual that first makes 
you a spirit. 

Meantime, as you distinguish yourself from the thinker, singer, and 
talker, so you no less distinguish yourself from the spirit, and feel 
very clearly that you are something besides spirit. But, as in the 
thinking ego hearing and sight easily vanish in the enthusiasm of 
thought, so you also have been seized by the spirit-enthusiasm, and 
you now long with all your might to become wholly spirit and to 
be dissolved in spirit. The spirit is your ideal , the unattained, the 
other-worldly; spirit is the name of your - god, ‘God is spirit’. 

Against all that is not spirit you are a zealot, and therefore you 
play the zealot against yourself who cannot get rid of a remainder of 
the non-spiritual. Instead of saying, ‘I am more than spirit’, you say 
with contrition, ‘I am less than spirit; and spirit, pure spirit, or the 
spirit that is nothing but spirit, I can only think of, but am not; and, 
since I am not it, it is another, exists as another, whom I call “God”.’ 

It lies in the nature of the case that the spirit that is to exist as 
pure spirit must be an other-worldly one, for, since I am not it, it 
follows that it can only be outside me; since in any case a human 
being is not fully comprehended in the concept ‘spirit’, it follows that 
the pure spirit, the spirit as such, can only be outside of men, beyond 
the human world, not earthly, but heavenly. 

Only from this disunion in which I and the spirit lie; only because 
‘I’ and ‘spirit’ are not names for one and the same thing, but different 
names for completely different things; only because I am not spirit 
and spirit not I - only from this do we get a quite tautological expla- 
nation of the necessity that the spirit dwells in the other world, that 
is, is God. 

But from this it also appears how thoroughly theological is the 
liberation that Feuerbach* is labouring to give us. What he says is 
that we had only mistaken our own essence, and therefore looked for 
it in the other world, but that now, when we see that God was only 
our human essence, we must recognize it again as ours and move it 
back out of the other world into this. To God, who is spirit, Feuer- 
bach gives the name ‘our essence’. Can we put up with this, that ‘our 

a Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, 2nd enlarged edition (Leipzig, 1843). 37 


The Ego and Its Own 

essence’ is brought into opposition to us, that we are split into an 
essential and an un-essential self? Do we not with that go back into 
the dreary misery of seeing ourselves banished out of ourselves? 

What have we gained, then, when for a variation we have trans- 
ferred into ourselves the divine outside us? Are we that which is in 
us? As little as we are that which is outside us. I am as little my heart 
as I am my sweetheart, this ‘other self’ of mine. Just because we are 
not the spirit that dwells in us, just for that reason we had to take it 
and set it outside us; it was not we, did not coincide with us, and 
therefore we could not think of it as existing otherwise than outside 
us, on the other side from us, in the other world. 

With the strength of despair Feuerbach clutches at the total sub- 
stance of Christianity, not to throw it away, no, to drag it to himself, 
to draw it, the long-yearned-for, ever-distant, out of its heaven with 
a last effort, and keep it by him forever. Is not that a clutch of the 
uttermost despair, a clutch for life or death, and is it not at the same 
time the Christian yearning and hungering for the other world? The 
hero wants not to go into the other world, but to draw the other 
world to him, and compel it to become this world! And since then 
has not all the world, with more or less consciousness, been crying 
that ‘this world’ is the vital point, and heaven must come down on 
earth and be experienced even here? 

Let us, in brief, set Feuerbach’s theological view and our contra- 
diction over against each other! ‘The essence of man is man’s 
supreme being ; 38 now by religion, to be sure, the supreme being is 
called God and regarded as an objective essence, but in truth it is 
only man’s own essence; and therefore the turning point of the 
world’s history is that henceforth no longer God, but man, is to appear 
to man as God.’ fl 

To this we reply: The supreme being is indeed the essence of 
man, but, just because it is his essence and not he himself, it remains 
quite immaterial whether we see it outside him and view it as ‘God’, 
or find it in him and call it ‘essence of man’ or ‘man’. / am neither 
God nor man, neither the supreme essence nor my essence, and 
therefore it is all one in the main whether I think of the essence as 
in me or outside me. Indeed, we really do always think of the supreme 
being as in both kinds of otherworldliness, the inward and outward, 

See, for example, The Essence of Christianity , p. 402. 


Men of the old time and the new 

at once; for the ‘Spirit of God’ is, according to the Christian view, 
also ‘our spirit’, and ‘dwells in us’. fl It dwells in heaven and dwells in 
us; we poor things are just its ‘dwelling’, and, if Feuerbach goes on 
to destroy its heavenly dwelling and force it to move to us bag and 
baggage, then we, its earthly apartments, will be badly overcrowded. 

But after this digression (which, if we were at all proposing to work 
by line and level, we should have had to save for later pages in order 
to avoid repetition) we return to the spirit’s first creation, the spirit 

The spirit is something other than myself. But this other, what is it? 

§2 The possessed 

Have you ever seen a spirit? ‘No, not I, but my grandmother.’ Now, 
you see, it’s just so with me too; I myself haven’t seen any, but my 
grandmother had them running between her feet all sorts of ways, 
and out of confidence in our grandmothers’ honesty we believe in 
the existence of spirits. 

But had we no grandfathers then, and did they not shrug their 
shoulders every time our grandmothers told about their ghosts? Yes, 
those were unbelieving men who have harmed our good religion 
much, those rationalists! We shall feel that! What else lies at the 
bottom of this warm faith in ghosts, if not the faith in ‘the existence 
of spiritual beings in general’, and is not this latter itself disastrously 
unsettled if impertinent men of the understanding may disturb the 
former? The Romantics 39 were quite conscious what a blow the very 
belief in God suffered by the laying aside of the belief in spirits or 
ghosts, and they tried to help us out of the baleful consequences not 
only by their re-awakened fairy world, but at last, and especially, by 
the ‘intrusion of a higher world’, by their somnambulists, visionaries 
of Prevorst, etc. The good believers and fathers of the church did 
not suspect that with the belief in ghosts the foundation of religion 
was withdrawn, and that since then it had been floating in the air. 
He who no longer believes in any ghost needs only to travel on 
consistently in his unbelief to see that there is no separate being at 
all concealed behind things, no ghost or - what is naively reckoned 
as synonymous even in our use of words - no ‘ spirit ’. 

“ For example, Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; John 20:22 and innumerable other 


The Ego and Its Own 

‘Spirits exist!’ Look about in the world, and say for yourself 
whether a spirit does not gaze upon you out of everything. Out of 
the lovely little flower there speaks to you the spirit of the Creator, 
who has shaped it so wonderfully; the stars proclaim the spirit that 
established their order; from the mountain-tops a spirit of sublimity 
breathes down; out of the waters a spirit of yearning murmurs up; 
and - out of men millions of spirits speak. The mountains may sink, 
the flowers fade, the world of stars fall in ruins, the men die - what 
matters the wreck of these visible bodies? The spirit, the ‘invisible 
spirit’, abides eternally! 

Yes, the whole world is haunted! Only is haunted? Indeed, it itself 
‘walks’, it is uncanny through and through, it is the wandering seem- 
ing-body [Scheinleib] of a spirit, it is a spook. What else should a 
ghost be, then, than an apparent body, but real spirit? Well, the world 
is ‘empty’, is ‘naught’, is only dazzling ‘semblance [ScheinY; its truth 
is the spirit alone; it is the seeming-body of a spirit. 

Look out near or far, a ghostly world surrounds you everywhere; 
you are always having ‘apparitions [ErscheinungenY or visions. Every- 
thing that appears to you is only the phantasm of an indwelling spirit, 
is a ghostly ‘apparition’; the world is to you only a ‘world of appear- 
ances [ErscheinungsweltY , behind which the spirit walks. You ‘see 

Are you perchance thinking of comparing yourself with the anci- 
ents, who saw gods everywhere? Gods, my dear modern, are not 
spirits; gods do not degrade the world to a semblance, and do not 
spiritualize it. 

But to you the whole world is spiritualized, and has become an 
enigmatical ghost; therefore do not wonder if you likewise find in 
yourself nothing but a spook. Is not your body haunted by your spirit, 
and is not the latter alone the true and real, the former only the 
‘transitory, naught’ or a ‘semblance’? Are we not all ghosts, uncanny 
beings that wait for ‘deliverance’ - namely, ‘spirits’? 

Since the spirit appeared in the world, since ‘the Word became 
flesh ’, 40 since then the world has been spiritualized, enchanted, a 

You have spirit, for you have thoughts. What are your thoughts? 
‘Spiritual entities.’ Not things, then? ‘No, but the spirit of things, 
the main point in all things, the inmost in them, their - idea.’ 
Consequently what you think is not only your thought? ‘On the 


Men of the old time and the new 

contrary, it is that in the world which is most real, that which is 
properly to be called true; it is the truth itself; if I only think 
truly, I think the truth. I may, to be sure, err with regard to the 
truth, and fail to recognize it; but, if I recognize truly, the object of 
my cognition is the truth.’ So, I suppose, you strive at all times 
to recognize the truth? ‘To me the truth is sacred. It may well 
happen that I find a truth incomplete and replace it with a better, 
but the truth I cannot abrogate. I believe in the truth, therefore I 
search in it; nothing transcends it, it is eternal.’ 

Sacred, eternal is the truth; it is the Sacred, the Eternal. But you, 
who let yourself be filled and led by this sacred thing, are yourself 
hallowed. Further, the sacred is not for your senses - and you never 
as a sensual man discover its trace - but for your faith, or, more 
definitely still, for your spirit, for it itself, you know, is a spiritual 
thing, a spirit - is spirit for the spirit. 

The sacred is by no means so easily to be set aside as many at 
present affirm, who no longer take this ‘unsuitable’ word into their 
mouths. If even in a single respect I am still upbraided as an ‘egoist’, 
there is left the thought of something else which I should serve more 
than myself, and which must be to me more important than every- 
thing; in short, something in which I should have to seek my true 
welfare [Heil], something - ‘sacred [Heiliges]\ However human this 
sacred thing may look, though it be the human itself, that does not 
take away its sacredness, but at most changes it from an unearthly to 
an earthly sacred thing, from a divine one to a human. 

Sacred things eaist only for the egoist who does not acknowledge 
himself, the involuntary egoist [unfreiwilligen Egoisten\ , for him who is 
always looking after his own and yet does not count himself as the 
highest being, who serves only himself and at the same time always 
thinks he is serving a higher being, who knows nothing higher than 
himself and yet is infatuated about something higher; in short, for 
the egoist who would like not to be an egoist, and abases himself 
(combats his egoism), but at the same time abases himself only for 
the sake of ‘being exalted’, and therefore of gratifying his egoism. 
Because he would like to cease to be an egoist, he looks about in 
heaven and earth for higher beings to serve and sacrifice himself to; 
but, however much he shakes and disciplines himself, in the end he 
does all for his own sake, and the disreputable egoism will not come 
off him. On this account I call him the involuntary egoist. 


The Ego and Its Own 

His toil and care to get away from himself is nothing but the 
misunderstood impulse to self-dissolution. If you are bound to your 
past hour, if you must babble today because you babbled yesterday/ 
if you cannot transform yourself each instant, you feel yourself fet- 
tered to slavery and benumbed. Therefore over each minute of your 
existence a fresh minute of the future beckons to you, and, developing 
yourself, you get away ‘from yourself’, that is, from the self that was 
at that moment. As you are at each instant, you are your own creature, 
and in this very ‘creature’ you do not wish to lose yourself, the creator. 
You are yourself a higher being than you are, and surpass yourself. 
But that you are the one who is higher than you, that is, that you are 
not only creature, but likewise your creator - just this, as an involun- 
tary egoist, you fail to recognize; and therefore the ‘higher essence’ 
is to you - an alien essence. Every higher essence, such as truth, 
mankind, and so on, is an essence over us. 

Alienness is a criterion of the ‘sacred’. In everything sacred there 
lies something ‘uncanny’, that is strange, such as we are not quite 
familiar and at home in. What is sacred to me is not my own ; and if, 
for instance, the property of others was not sacred to me, I should 
look on it as mine, which I should take to myself when occasion 
offered. Or, on the other side, if I regard the face of the Chinese 
emperor as sacred, it remains strange to my eye, which I close at its 

Why is an incontrovertible mathematical truth, which might even 
be called eternal according to the common understanding of words, 
not - sacred? Because it is not revealed, or not the revelation of a 
higher being. If by revealed we understand only the so-called 
religious truths, we go far astray, and entirely fail to recognize the 
breadth of the concept ‘higher being’. Atheists keep up their scoffing 
at the higher being, which was also honoured under the name of the 
‘highest’ or etre supreme , 41 and trample in the dust one ‘proof of his 
existence’ after another, without noticing that they themselves, out 
of need for a higher being, only annihilate the old to make room for 

a How the priests chime ! how important they 
Would make it out, that men should come their way 
And babble, just as yesterday, today! 

Oh, blame them not! They know- man’s need, I say! 
For he takes all his happiness this way, 

To babble just tomorrow as today . 42 


Men of the old time and the new 

a new. Is ‘man’ perchance not a higher essence than an individual 
man, and must not the truths, rights, and ideas which result from 
the concept of him be honoured and - counted sacred, as revelations 
of this very concept? For, even though we should abrogate again 
many a truth that seemed to be made manifest by this concept, yet 
this would only evince a misunderstanding on our part, without in 
the least degree harming the sacred concept itself or taking their 
sacredness from those truths that must ‘rightly’ be looked upon as 
its revelations. Man reaches beyond every individual man, and yet - 
though he be ‘his essence’ - is not in fact his essence (which rather 
would be as single as he the individual himself) but a general and 
‘higher’, yes, for atheists ‘the highest essence ’. 43 And, as the divine 
revelations were not written down by God with his own hand, but 
made public through ‘the Lord’s instruments’, so also the new highest 
essence does not write out its revelations itself, but lets them come 
to our knowledge through ‘true men’. Only the new essence betrays, 
in fact, a more spiritual style of conception than the old God, because 
the latter was still represented in a sort of embodiedness or form, 
while the undimmed spirituality of the new is retained, and no special 
material body is fancied for it. And in addition it does not lack corpor- 
eity, which even takes on a yet more seductive appearance because 
it looks more natural and mundane and consists in nothing less than 
in every bodily man - yes, or outright in ‘humanity’ or ‘all men’. 
Thereby the spectralness of the spirit in a seeming-body has once 
again become really solid and popular. 

Sacred, then, is the highest essence and everything in which this 
highest essence reveals or will reveal itself; but hallowed are they 
who recognize this highest essence together with its own, together 
with its revelations. The sacred hallows in turn its reverer, who by 
his worship becomes himself a saint, as likewise what he does is 
saintly, a saintly walk, saintly thoughts and actions, imaginations and 

It is easily understood that the conflict over what is revered as the 
highest essence can be significant only so long as even the most 
embittered opponents concede to each other the main point, that 
there is a highest essence to which worship or service is due. If one 
should smile compassionately at the whole struggle over a highest 
essence, as a Christian might at the war of words between a Shiite 
and a Sunnite or between a Brahman and a Buddhist, then the 


The Ego and Its Own 

hypothesis of a highest essence would be null in his eyes, and the 
conflict on this basis an idle play. Whether then the one God or the 
three in one, whether the Lutheran God or the etre supreme or not 
God at all, but ‘man’, may represent the highest essence, that makes 
no difference at all for him who denies the highest essence itself, for 
in his eyes those servants of a highest essence are one and all - pious 
people, the most raging atheist not less than the most faith-filled 

In the foremost place of the sacred then, stands the highest essence 
and the faith in this essence, our ‘holy faith’. 

The spook 

With ghosts we arrive in the spirit-realm, in the realm of essences. 

What haunts the universe, and has its occult, ‘incomprehensible’ 
being there, is precisely the mysterious spook that we call highest 
essence. And to get to the bottom of this spook, to comprehend it, to 
discover reality in it (to prove ‘the existence of God’) - this task men 
set to themselves for thousands of years; with the horrible impossi- 
bility, the endless Danaid-labour , 44 of transforming the spook into a 
non-spook, the unreal into something real, the spirit into an entire 
and corporeal person - with this they tormented themselves to death. 
Behind the existing world they sought the ‘thing in itself’, the essence; 
behind the thing they sought the un-thing. 

When one looks to the bottom of anything, searches out its essence , 
one often discovers something quite other than what it seems to be; 
honeyed speech and a lying heart, pompous words and beggarly 
thoughts, and so on. By bringing the essence into prominence one 
degrades the hitherto misapprehended appearance to a bare sem- 
blance, a deception. The essence of the world, so attractive and splen- 
did, is for him who looks to the bottom of it - emptiness; emptiness 
is - world’s essence (world’s doings). Now, he who is religious does 
not occupy himself with the deceitful semblance, with the empty 
appearances, but looks upon the essence, and in the essence has - 
the truth. 

The essences which are deduced from some appearances are the 
evil essences, and conversely from others the good. The essence of 
human feeling, for instance, is love; the essence of human will is the 
good; that of one’s thinking, the true, and so on. 

What at first passed for existence, such as the world and its like, 
appears now as bare semblance, and the truly existent is much rather 


Men of the old time and the new 

the essence, whose realm is filled with gods, spirits, demons, with 
good or bad essences. Only this inverted world, the world of essences, 
truly exists now. The human heart may be loveless, but its essence 
exists, God, ‘who is love’; human thought may wander in error, but 
its essence, truth, exists; ‘God is truth’, and the like. 

To know and acknowledge essences alone and nothing but 
essences, that is religion; its realm is a realm of essences, spooks, 
and ghosts. 

The longing to make the spook comprehensible, or to realize non- 
sense , has brought about a corporeal ghost , a ghost or spirit with a 
real body, an embodied ghost. How the strongest and most talented 
Christians have tortured themselves to get a conception of this ghostly 
apparition! But there always remained the contradiction of two nat- 
ures, the divine and human, the ghosdy and sensual; there remained 
the most wondrous spook, a thing that was not a thing. Never yet 
was a ghost more soul-torturing, and no shaman, who pricks himself 
to raving fury and nerve -lacerating cramps to conjure a ghost, can 
endure such soul-torment as Christians suffered from that most 
incomprehensible ghost. 

But through Christ the truth of the matter had at the same time 
come to light, that the veritable spirit or ghost is - man. The corporeal 
or embodied spirit is just man; he himself is the ghostly being and 
at the same time the being’s appearance and existence. Henceforth 
man no longer, in typical cases, shudders at ghosts outside him, but 
at himself; he is terrified at himself. In the depth of his breast dwells 
the spirit of sin ; even the faintest thought (and this is itself a spirit, 
you know) may be a devil, etc. - The ghost has put on a body, God 
has become man, but now man is himself the gruesome spook which 
he seeks to get behind, to exorcize, to fathom, to bring to reality and 
to speech; man is - spirit. What matter if the body wither, if only the 
spirit is saved? Everything rests on the spirit, and the spirit’s or ‘soul’s’ 
welfare becomes the exclusive goal. Man has become to himself a 
ghost, an uncanny spook, to which there is even assigned a distinct 
seat in the body (dispute over the seat of the soul, whether in the 
head, etc.). 

You are not to me, and I am not to you, a higher essence. 
Nevertheless a higher essence may be hidden in each of us, and 
call forth a mutual reverence. To take at once the most general, 
man lives in you and me. If I did not see man in you, what 
occasion should I have to respect you? To be sure, you are not 


The Ego and Its Own 

man and his true and adequate form, but only a mortal veil of 
his, from which he can withdraw without himself ceasing; but yet 
for the present this general and higher essence is housed in you, 
and you present before me (because an imperishable spirit has in 
you assumed a perishable body, so that really your form is only 
an ‘assumed’ one) a spirit that appears, appears in you, without 
being bound to your body and to this particular mode of appear- 
ance - therefore a spook. Hence I do not regard you as a higher 
essence, but only respect that higher essence which ‘walks’ in you; 
I ‘respect man in you’. The ancients did not observe anything of 
this sort in their slaves, and the higher essence ‘man’ found as 
yet little response. To make up for this, they saw in each other 
ghosts of another sort The people is a higher essence than an 
individual, and, like man or the spirit of man, a spirit haunting 
the individual - the spirit of the people [Volksgeist].* 5 For this 
reason they revered this spirit, and only so far as he served this 
or else a spirit related to it (as in the spirit of the family) could 
the individual appear significant; only for the sake of the higher 
essence, the people, was consideration allowed to the ‘member of 
the people’. As you are hallowed to us by ‘man’ who haunts you, 
so at every time men have been hallowed by some higher essence 
or other, like people, family, and such. Only for the sake of a 
higher essence has any one been honoured from of old, only as 
a ghost has he been regarded in the light of a hallowed, a protected 
and recognized person. If I cherish you because I hold you dear, 
because in you my heart finds nourishment, my need satisfaction, 
then it is not done for the sake of a higher essence whose hallowed 
body you are, not on account of my beholding in you a ghost, an 
appearing spirit, but from egoistic pleasure; you yourself with your 
essence are valuable to me, for your essence is not a higher one, 
is not higher and more general than you, is unique [einzig] like 
you yourself, because it is you. 

But it is not only man that ‘haunts’; so does everything. The higher 
essence, the spirit, that walks in everything, is at the same time bound 
to nothing, and only - ‘appears’ in it Ghosts in every corner! 

Here would be the place to pass the haunting spirits in review, if 
they were not to come before us again further on in order to vanish 
before egoism. Hence let only a few of them be particularized by way 
of example, in order to bring us at once to our attitude toward them. 


Men of the old time and the new 

Sacred above all is the ‘Holy Spirit’, sacred the truth, sacred are 
right, law, a good cause, majesty, marriage, the common good, order, 
the fatherland, and so on. 

Wheels in the head 

Man, your head is haunted; you have wheels in your head ! 46 You 
imagine great things, and depict to yourself a whole world of gods 
that has an existence for you, a spirit-realm to which you suppose 
yourself to be called, an ideal that beckons to you. You have a fixed 
idea [fixe Idee ] ! 

Do not think that I am jesting or speaking figuratively when I 
regard those persons who cling to the higher, and (because the vast 
majority belongs under this head) almost the whole world of men, as 
veritable fools, fools in a madhouse. What is it, then, that is called a 
‘fixed idea’? An idea that has subjected the man to itself. When you 
recognize, with regard to such a fixed idea, that it is a folly, you shut 
its slave up in an asylum. And is the truth of the faith, say, which we 
are not to doubt; the majesty of the people, which we are not to strike 
at (he who does is guilty of - lese-majesty); virtue, against which the 
censor is not to let a word pass, that morality may be kept pure; are 
these not ‘fixed ideas’? Is not all the stupid chatter of most of our 
newspapers the babble of fools who suffer from the fixed idea of 
morality, legality, Christianity, and so forth, and only seem to go 
about free because the madhouse in which they walk takes in so 
broad a space? Touch the fixed idea of such a fool, and you will at 
once have to guard your back against the lunatic’s stealthy malice. 
For these great lunatics are like the little so-called lunatics in this 
point too, that they assail by stealth him who touches their fixed idea. 
They first steal his weapon, steal free speech from him, and then 
they fall upon him with their nails. Every day now lays bare the 
cowardice and vindictiveness of these maniacs, and the stupid popu- 
lace hurrahs for their crazy measures. One must read the journals of 
this period, and must hear the philistines talk, to get the horrible 
conviction that one is shut up in a house with fools. ‘Thou shalt not 
call thy brother a fool; if thou dost . . ,’ 47 But I do not fear the curse, 
and I say, my brothers are arch-fools. Whether a poor fool of the 
insane asylum is possessed by the fancy that he is God the Father, 
Emperor of Japan, the Holy Spirit, or whatnot, or whether a citizen 
in comfortable circumstances conceives that it is his mission to be a 


The Ego and Its Own 

good Christian, a faithful Protestant, a loyal citizen, a virtuous man - 
both these are one and the same ‘fixed idea’. He who has never tried 
and dared not to be a good Christian, a faithful Protestant, a virtuous 
man, and the like, is imprisoned and prepossessed [gefangen und 
befangen ] by faith, virtuousness, etc. Just as the schoolmen philoso- 
phized only inside the belief of the church; as Pope Benedict XIV 48 
wrote fat books inside the papist superstition, without ever throwing 
a doubt upon this belief; as authors fill whole folios on the state 
without calling in question the fixed idea of the state itself; as our 
newspapers are crammed with politics because they are conjured into 
the fancy that man was created to be a zoon politicon , 49 so also subjects 
vegetate in subjection, virtuous people in virtue, liberals in humanity, 
without ever putting to these fixed ideas of theirs the searching knife 
of criticism. Undislodgeable, like a madman’s delusion, those 
thoughts stand on a firm footing, and he who doubts them - lays 
hands on the sacred\ Yes, the ‘fixed idea’, that is the truly sacred! 

Is it perchance only people possessed by the devil that meet us, or 
do we as often come upon people possessed in the contrary way, pos- 
sessed by ‘the good’, by virtue, morality, the law, or some ‘principle’ 
or other? Possessions of the devil are not the only ones. God works 
on us, and the devil does; the former ‘workings of grace’, the latter 
‘workings of the devil’. Possessed [Besessene] people are set [versessen] 
in their opinions. 

If the word ‘possession’ displeases you, then call it prepossession; 
yes, since the spirit possesses you, and all ‘inspirations’ come from 
it, call it - inspiration and enthusiasm. I add that complete enthusi- 
asm - for we cannot stop with the sluggish, half-way kind - is called 

It is precisely among cultured people that fanaticism is at home; 
for man is cultured so far as he takes an interest in spiritual things, 
and interest in spiritual things, when it is alive, is and must be fanati- 
cism ; it is a fanatical interest in the sacred {fanum ). 50 Observe our 
liberals, look into Die Sachsischen Vaterlandsblatter , 51 hear what 
Schlosser 52 says: 

Holbach’s 53 company constituted a regular plot against the tra- 
ditional doctrine and the existing system, and its members were 
as fanatical on behalf of their unbelief as monks and priests, 


Men of the old time and the new 

Jesuits and Pietists , 54 Methodists, missionary and Bible societies, 
commonly are for mechanical worship and orthodoxy/ 

Take notice how a ‘moral man’ behaves, who today often thinks 
he is through with God and throws off Christianity as a bygone thing. 
If you ask him whether he . has ever doubted that the copulation of 
brother and sister is incest, that monogamy is the truth of marriage, 
that filial piety is a sacred duty, then a moral shudder will come over 
him at the conception of one’s being allowed to touch his sister as 
wife also. And whence this shudder? Because he believes in those 
moral commandments. This moral faith is deeply rooted in his breast. 
Much as he rages against the pious Christians, he himself has never- 
theless as thoroughly remained a Christian, namely a moral Christian. 
In the form of morality Christianity holds him a prisoner, and a 
prisoner under faith. Monogamy is to be something sacred, and he 
who may live in bigamy is punished as a criminal ; he who commits 
incest suffers as a criminal. Those who are always crying that religion 
is not to be regarded in the state, and the Jew is to be a citizen 
equally with the Christian, show themselves in accord with this. Is 
not this of incest and monogamy a dogma of faith ? Touch it, and you 
will learn by experience how this moral man is a hero of faith too, not 
less than Krummacher , 55 not less than Philip II . 56 These fight for the 
faith of the Church, he for the faith of the state, or the moral laws 
of the state; for articles of faith, both condemn him who acts other- 
wise than their faith will allow. The brand of ‘crime’ is stamped upon 
him, and he may languish in reformatories, in jails. Moral faith is as 
fanatical as religious faith! They call that ‘liberty of faith’ then, when 
brother and sister, on account of a relation that they should have 
settled with their ‘conscience’, are thrown into prison. ‘But they set 
a pernicious example.’ Yes, indeed: others might have taken the 
notion that the state had no business to meddle with their relation, 
and thereupon ‘purity of morals’ would go to ruin. So then the 
religious heroes of faith are zealous for the ‘sacred God’, the moral 
ones for the ‘sacred good’. 

Those who are zealous for something sacred often look very little 
like each other. How the strictly orthodox or old-style believers differ 

a Friedrich Christoph Schlosser, Geschichte der achtzehnten Jahrhunderts und des tieun- 
zehnten bis zum Sturz des franzdsischen Kaiserreichs. Mit besonderer Rikksicht auf geistige 
Bildung , volume II (Heidelberg, 1837), p. 519. 


The Ego and Its Own 

from the fighters for ‘truth, light and justice’, from the Philalethes / 7 
the Friends of Light , 58 the Rationalists / 9 and others. And yet, how 
utterly unessential is this difference! If one buffets single traditional 
truths (miracles, unlimited power of princes), then the Rationalists 
buffet them too, and only the old-style believers wail. But, if one 
buffets truth itself, he immediately has both, as believers , for 
opponents. So with moralities; the strict believers are relentless, the 
clearer heads are more tolerant. But he who attacks morality itself 
gets both to deal with. ‘Truth, morality, justice, light, etc.’, are to be 
and remain ‘sacred’. What any one finds to censure in Christianity 
is simply supposed to be ‘un-Christian’ according to the view of these 
rationalists; but Christianity must remain a ‘fixture’, to buffet it is 
outrageous, ‘an outrage’. To be sure, the heretic against pure faith 
no longer exposes himself to the earlier fury of persecution, but so 
much the more does it now fall upon the heretic against pure morals. 

Piety has for a century received so many blows, and had to hear its 
superhuman essence reviled as an ‘inhuman’ one so often, that one 
cannot feel tempted to draw the sword against it again. And yet it 
has almost always been only moral opponents that have appeared in 
the arena, to assail the supreme essence in favour of - another 
supreme essence. So Proudhon , 60 unabashed, says: ‘Man is destined 
to live without religion, but the moral law {la loi morale) is eternal and 
absolute. Who would dare today to attack morality?’" Moral people 
skimmed off the best fat from religion, ate it themselves, and are now 
having a tough job to get rid of the resulting scrofula. If, therefore, 
we point out that religion has not by any means been hurt in its 
inmost part so long as people reproach it only with its superhuman 
essence, and that it takes its final appeal to the ‘spirit’ alone (for God 
is spirit), then we have sufficiently indicated its final accord with 
morality, and can leave its stubborn conflict with the latter lying 
behind us. It is a question of a supreme essence with both, and 
whether this is a superhuman or a human one can make (since it is 
in any case an essence over me, a super-mine one, so to speak) but 
little difference to me. In the end the relation to the human essence, 
or to ‘man’, as soon as ever it has shed the snake-skin of the old 
religion, will yet wear a religious snake -skin again. 

“ Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, De la creation de Vordre dans I’humanite on principes d’ organis- 
ation politique (Paris, 1843), p. 36. 


Men of the old time and the new 

So Feuerbach instructs us that, ‘if one only inverts speculative phil- 
osophy, always makes the predicate the subject, and so makes the 
subject the object and principle, one has the undraped truth, pure 
and clean’. 0 With this, to be sure, we lost the narrow religious stand- 
point, lost the God, who from this standpoint is subject; but we take 
in exchange for it the other side of the religious standpoint, the moral 
standpoint. Thus we no longer say ‘God is love’, but ‘love is divine’. 
If we further put in place of the predicate ‘divine’ the equivalent 
‘sacred’ then, as far as concerns the sense, all the old comes back 
again. According to this, love is to be the good in man, his divineness, 
that which does him honour, his true humanity (it ‘makes him man 
for the first time’, makes for the first time a man out of him). So 
then it would be more accurately worded thus: Love is what is human 
in man, and what is inhuman is the loveless egoist. But precisely all 
that which Christianity and with it speculative philosophy (that is, 
theology) offers as the good, the absolute, is to self-ownership [Eig- 
enheit ] simply not the good (or, what means the same, it is only the 
good). Consequently, by the transformation of the predicate into the 
subject, the Christian essence (and it is the predicate that contains the 
essence, you know) would only be fixed yet more oppressively. God 
and the divine would entwine themselves all the more inextricably 
with me. To expel God from his heaven and to rob him of his ‘ trans- 
cendence ’ cannot yet support a claim of complete victory, if therein he 
is only chased into the human breast and gifted with indelible imma- 
nence. Now they say, the divine is the truly human! 

The same people who oppose Christianity as the basis of the state, 
who oppose the so-called Christian State, do not tire of repeating 
that morality is ‘the fundamental pillar of social life and of the state’. 
As if the dominion of morality were not a complete dominion of the 
sacred, a ‘hierarchy’. 

So we may here mention by the way that rationalist movement 
which, after theologians had long insisted that only faith was capable 
of grasping religious truths, that only to believers did God reveal 
himself, and that therefore only the heart, the feelings, the believing 
imagination [Phantasie] was religious, broke out with the assertion 
that the ‘natural understanding’, human reason, was also capable of 

a Ludwig Feuerbach, ‘Preliminary Theses for the Reformation of Philosophy’, cited 
from Arnold Ruge (ed.), Anekdota zur neuesten deutschen Philosophic und Publizistik, 
volume II (Zurich, 1843), p. 64. 61 


The Ego and Its Own 

discerning God. What does that mean but that the reason laid claim 
to be the same visionary [ Phantastin ] as the imagination? In this sense 
Reimarus 62 wrote his Vomehmsten Wahrheiten der natiirlichen Religion. 
It had to come to this, that the whole man with all his faculties was 
found to be religious: ; heart and affections, understanding and reason, 
feeling, knowledge, and will, in short, everything in man, appeared 
religious. Hegel 63 has shown that even philosophy is religious. And 
what is not called religion today? The ‘religion of love’, the ‘religion 
of freedom’, ‘political religion’, in short, every enthusiasm. So it is, 
too, in fact. 

To this day we use the Romance word ‘religion’, which expresses 
the concept of a condition of being bound. 6 * To be sure, we remain 
bound, so far as religion takes possession of our inward parts; but is 
the mind also bound? On the contrary, that is free, is sole lord, is 
not our mind, but absolute. Therefore the correct affirmative trans- 
lation of the word religion would be ‘ freedom of mind'\ In whomsoever 
the mind is free, he is religious in just the same way as he in whom 
the senses have free course is called a sensual man. The mind binds 
the former, the desires the latter. Religion, therefore, is boundedness 
or religio with reference to me - I am bound; it is freedom with 
reference to the mind - the mind is free, or has freedom of mind. 
Many know from experience how hard it is on us when the desires 
run away with us, free and unbridled; but that the free mind, splendid 
intellectuality, enthusiasm for intellectual interests, or however this 
jewel may in the most various phrase be named, brings us into yet 
more grievous straits than even the wildest impropriety, people will 
not perceive; nor can they perceive it without being consciously 

Reimarus, and all who have shown that our reason, our heart, etc., 
also lead to God, have thereby shown that we are possessed through 
and through. To be sure, they vexed the theologians, from whom 
they took away the prerogative of religious exaltation; but for religion, 
for freedom of mind, they thereby conquered yet more ground. For, 
when the mind is no longer limited to feeling or faith, but also, as 
understanding, reason, and thought in general, belongs to itself the 
mind - when, therefore, it may take part in the spiritual and heavenly 
truths in the form of understanding, as well as in its other forms - 
then the whole mind is occupied only with spiritual things, that is, 
with itself, and is therefore free. Now we are so through-and-through 


Men of the old time and the new 

religious that ‘jurors’, ‘sworn men’, condemn us to death, and every 
policeman, as a good Christian, takes us to the clink by virtue of an 
‘oath of office’. 

Morality could not come into opposition with piety until after the 
time when in general the boisterous hate of everything that looked 
like an ‘order’ (decrees, commandments, etc.) spoke out in revolt, 
and the personal ‘absolute lord’ was scoffed at and persecuted; conse- 
quently it could arrive at independence only through liberalism, 
whose first form acquired significance in the world’s history as ‘citi- 
zenship’, and weakened the specifically religious powers (see ‘Liber- 
alism’ below). For, when morality not merely goes alongside piety, 
but stands on feet of its own, then its principle lies no longer in the 
divine commandments, but in the law of reason, from which the 
commandments, so far as they are still to remain valid, must first 
await justification for their validity. In the law of reason man deter- 
mines himself out of himself, for ‘man’ is rational, and out of the 
‘essence of man’ those laws follow of necessity. Piety and morality 
part company in this - that the former makes God the lawgiver, the 
latter man. 

From a certain standpoint of morality [Sittlichkeit] people reason 
roughly as follows: Either man is led by his sensuality [Sinnlichkeii |, 
and is, following it, immoral , or he is led by the good, which, taken 
up into the will, is called moral sentiment (sentiment and prepos- 
session in favour of the good); then he shows himself moral. From 
this point of view how, for instance, can Sand’s 65 act against Kotz- 
ebue 66 be called immoral? What is commonly understood by unselfish 
it certainly was, in the same measure as (among other things) St 
Crispin’s 67 thieveries in favour of the poor. ‘He should not have 
murdered, for it stands written, Thou shalt not murder!’ Then to 
serve the good, the welfare of the people, as Sand at least intended, 
or the welfare of the poor, like Crispin, is moral; but murder and 
theft are immoral; the purpose moral, the means immoral. Why? 
‘Because murder, assassination, is something absolutely bad.’ When 
the Guerrillas 68 enticed the enemies of the country into ravines and 
shot them down unseen from the bushes, do you suppose that was 
assassination? According to the principle of morality, which com- 
mands us to serve the good, you could really ask only whether murder 
could never in any case be a realization of the good, and would have 
to endorse that murder which realized the good. You cannot con- 


The Ego and Its Own 

demn Sand’s deed at all; it was moral, because in the service of 
the good, because unselfish; it was an act of punishment, which the 
individual inflicted, an - execution inflicted at the risk of the 
executioner’s life. What else had his scheme been, after all, but that 
he wanted to suppress writings by brute force? Are you not 
acquainted with the same procedure as a ‘legal’ and sanctioned one? 
And what can be objected against it from your principle of morality? - 
‘But it was an illegal execution.’ So the immoral thing in it was the 
illegality, the disobedience to law? Then you admit that the good is 
nothing else than - law, morality nothing else than loyalty. And to this 
externality of ‘loyalty’ your morality must sink, to this righteousness 
of works in the fulfilment of the law, only that the latter is at once 
more tyrannical and more revolting than the old-time righteousness 
of works. For in the latter only the act is needed, but you require the 
disposition too; one must carry in himself the law, the statute; and he 
who is most legally disposed is the most moral. Even the last vestige 
of cheerfulness in Catholic life must perish in this Protestant legality. 
Here at last the domination of the law is for the first time complete. 
‘Not I live, but the law lives in me.’ Thus I have really come so far 
to be only the ‘vessel of its glory’. ‘Every Prussian carries his gendarme 
in his breast’, says a high Prussian officer. 

Why do certain opposition parties fail to flourish? Solely for the 
reason that they refuse to forsake the path of morality or legality. 
Hence the measureless hypocrisy of devotion, love, etc., from whose 
repulsiveness one may daily get the most thorough nausea at this 
rotten and hypocritical relation of a ‘lawful opposition’. - In the moral 
relation of love and fidelity a divided or opposed will cannot have 
place; the beautiful relation is disturbed if the one wills this and the 
other the reverse. But now, according to the practice hitherto and 
the old prejudice of the opposition, the moral relation is to be pre- 
served above all. What is then left to the opposition? Perhaps the will 
to have a liberty, if the beloved one sees fit to deny it? Not a bit! It 
may not will to have the freedom, it can only wish for it, ‘petition’ 
for it, lisp a ‘please, please!’ What would come of it, if the opposition 
really willed , willed with the full energy of the will? No, it must 
renounce will in order to live to love , renounce liberty - for love of 
morality. It may never ‘claim as a right’ what it is permitted only 
to ‘beg as a favour’. Love, devotion, etc., demand with undeviating 
definiteness that there be only one will to which the others devote 


Men of the old time and the new 

themselves, which they serve, follow, love. Whether this will is 
regarded as reasonable or as unreasonable, in both cases one acts 
morally when one follows it, and immorally when one breaks away 
from it The will that commands the censorship seems to many 
unreasonable; but he who in a land of censorship evades the cen- 
soring of his book acts immorally, and he who submits it to the 
censorship acts morally. If someone let his moral judgement go, and 
set up a secret press, one would have to call him immoral, and 
imprudent into the bargain if he let himself be caught; but will such 
a man lay claim to a value in the eyes of the ‘moral’? Perhaps! - That 
is, if he fancied he was serving a ‘higher morality’. 

The web of the hypocrisy of today hangs on the frontiers of two 
domains, between which our time swings back and forth, attaching 
its fine threads of deception and self-deception. No longer vigorous 
enough to serve morality without doubt or weakening, not yet reckless 
enough to live wholly to egoism, it trembles now toward the one and 
now toward the other in the spider-web of hypocrisy, and, crippled 
by the curse of halfness , catches only miserable, stupid flies. If one 
has once dared to make a ‘free’ motion, immediately one waters it 
again with assurances of love, and - feigns resignation ; if, on the other 
side, they have had the face to reject the free motion with moral 
appeals to confidence, immediately the moral courage also sinks, and 
they assure one how they hear the free words with special pleasure; 
they - feign approval. In short, people would like to have the one, but 
not go without the other; they would like to have a free will, but not 
for their lives lack the moral will. Just come in contact with a servile 
loyalist, you liberals. You will sweeten every word of freedom with a 
look of the most loyal confidence, and he will clothe his servilism in 
the most flattering phrases of freedom. Then you go apart, and he, 
like you, thinks ‘I know you, fox!’ He scents the devil in you as much 
as you do the dark old Lord God in him. 

A Nero 69 is a ‘bad’ man only in the eyes of the ‘good’; in mine he 
is nothing but a possessed man, as are the good too. The good see in 
him an arch-villain, and relegate him to hell. Why did nothing hinder 
him in his arbitrary course? Why did people put up with so much? 
Do you suppose the tame Romans, who let all their will be bound 
by such a tyrant, were a hair the better? In old Rome they would 
have put him to death instantly, would never have been his slaves. 
But the contemporary ‘good’ among the Romans opposed to him 


The Ego and Its Own 

only moral demands, not their will they sighed that their emperor 
did not do homage to morality, like them; they themselves remained 
‘moral subjects’, until at last one found courage to give up ‘moral, 
obedient subjection’. And then the same ‘good Romans’ who, as 
‘obedient subjects’, had borne all the ignominy of having no will, 
hurrahed over the nefarious, immoral act of the rebel. Where then 
in the ‘good’ was the courage for the revolution , that courage which 
they now praised, after another had mustered it up? The good could 
not have this courage, for a revolution, and an insurrection into the 
bargain, is always something ‘immoral’, which one can resolve upon 
only when one ceases to be ‘good’ and becomes either ‘bad’ or - 
neither of the two. Nero was no viler than his time, in which one 
could only be one of the two, good or bad. The judgement of his 
time on him had to be that he was bad, and this in the highest 
degree: not a milksop, but an arch-scoundrel. All moral people can 
pronounce only this judgement on him. Rascals such as he was are 
still living here and there today (see for example the memoirs of 
Ritter von Lang 70 ) in the midst of the moral. It is not convenient to 
live among them certainly, as one is not sure of his life for a moment; 
but can you say that it is more convenient to live among the moral? 
One is just as little sure of his life there, only that one is hanged ‘in 
the way of justice’, but least of all is one sure of his honour, and the 
national cockade disappears in a flash. The hard fist of morality treats 
the noble nature of egoism altogether without compassion. 

‘But surely one cannot put a rascal and an honest man on the same 
level!’ Now, no human being does that oftener than you judges of 
morals; yes, still more than that, you imprison as a criminal an honest 
man who speaks openly against the existing constitution, against the 
hallowed institutions, and you entrust portfolios and still more 
important things to a crafty rascal. So in practice you have nothing 
to reproach me with. ‘But in theory!’ Now there I do put both on 
the same level, as two opposite poles - namely, both on the level of 
the moral law. Both have meaning only in the ‘moral’ world, just as 
in the pre-Christian time a Jew who kept the law and one who broke 
it had meaning and significance only in respect to the Jewish law; 
before Jesus Christ, on the contrary, the Pharisee was no more than 
the ‘sinner and publican ’. 71 So before self-ownership the moral 
Pharisee amounts to as much as the immoral sinner. 


Men of the old time and the new 

Nero became very inconvenient by his possessedness. But a self- 
owning man [ein eigener Mensch ] would not foolishly oppose to him 
the ‘sacred’, and whine if the tyrant does not regard the sacred; he 
would oppose to him his will. How often the sacredness of the 
inalienable rights of man has been held up to their foes, and some 
liberty or other shown and demonstrated to be a ‘sacred right of 
man’! Those who do that deserve to be laughed out of court - as 
they actually are - were it not that in truth they do, even though 
unconsciously, take the road that leads to the goal. They have a 
presentiment that, if only the majority is once won for that liberty, it 
will also will the liberty, and will then take what it will have. The 
sacredness of the liberty, and all possible proofs of this sacredness, 
will never procure it; lamenting and petitioning only shows beggars. 

The moral man is necessarily narrow in that he knows no other 
enemy than the ‘immoral’ man. ‘He who is not moral is immoral!’ 
and accordingly reprobate, despicable, etc. Therefore the moral man 
can never comprehend the egoist. Is not unwedded cohabitation an 
immorality? The moral man may turn as he pleases, he will have to 
stand by this verdict; Emilia Galotti 72 gave up her life for this moral 
truth. And it is true, it is an immorality. A virtuous girl may become 
an old maid; a virtuous man may pass the time in fighting his natural 
impulses until he has perhaps dulled them, he may castrate himself 
for the sake of virtue as St Origen 73 did for the sake of heaven: he 
thereby honours sacred wedlock, sacred chastity, as inviolable; he is - 
moral. Unchastity can never become a moral act. However indul- 
gently the moral man may judge and excuse him who committed it, 
it remains a transgression, a sin against a moral commandment; there 
clings to it an indelible stain. As chastity once belonged to the mon- 
astic vow, so it does to moral conduct. Chastity is a - good. For the 
egoist, on the contrary, even chastity is not a good without which he 
could not get along; he cares nothing at all about it. What now follows 
from this for the judgement of the moral man? This: that he throws 
the egoist into the only class of men that he knows besides moral 
men, into that of the - immoral. He cannot do otherwise; he must 
find the egoist immoral in everything in which the egoist disregards 
morality. If he did not find him so, then he would already have 
become an apostate from morality without confessing it to himself, 
he would already no longer be a truly moral man. One should not 


The Ego and Its Own 

let himself be led astray by such phenomena, which at the present 
day are certainly no longer to be classed as rare, but should reflect 
that he who yields any point of morality can as little be counted 
among the truly moral as Lessing 74 was a pious Christian when, in 
the well-known parable, he compared the Christian religion, as well 
as the Moslem and Jewish, to a ‘counterfeit ring’. Often people are 
already further than they venture to confess to themselves. For Soc- 
rates, because in culture he stood on the level of morality, it would 
have been an immorality if he had been willing to follow Crito’s 75 
seductive incitement and escape from the dungeon; to remain was 
the only moral thing. But it was solely because Socrates was - a 
moral man. The ‘unprincipled, sacrilegious’ men of the revolution, 
on the contrary, had sworn fidelity to Louis XVI , 76 and decreed his 
deposition, yes, his death; but the act was an immoral one, at which 
moral persons will be horrified to all eternity. 

Yet all this applies, more or less, only to ‘civic morality [ biirgerliche 
SittlichkeitY on which the freer look down with contempt. For it (like 
civism [j Biirgerlichkeit ], its native ground, in general) is still too little 
removed and free from the religious heaven not to transplant the 
latter’s laws without criticism or further consideration to its domain 
instead of producing independent doctrines of its own. Morality cuts 
a quite different figure when it arrives at the consciousness of its 
dignity, and raises its principle, the essence of man, or ‘man’, to be 
the only regulative power. Those who have worked their way through 
to such a decided consciousness break entirely with religion, whose 
God no longer finds any place alongside their ‘man’, and, as they 
(see below) themselves scuttle the ship of state, so too they crumble 
away that ‘morality’ which flourishes only in the state, and logically 
have no right to use even its name any further. For what this ‘critical’ 
party calls morality is very positively distinguished from the so-called 
‘civic or political morality’, and must appear to the citizen like an 
‘insensate and unbridled liberty’. But at bottom it has only the advan- 
tage of the ‘purity of the principle’, which, freed from its defilement 
with the religious, has now reached universal power in its clarified 
definiteness as ‘humanity’. Therefore one should not wonder that 
the name ‘morality’ is retained along with others, like freedom, ben- 
evolence, self-consciousness, and is only garnished now and then 
with the addition, a ‘free’ morality - just as, though the civic state is 


Men of the old time and the new 

abused, yet the state is to arise again as a ‘free state’, or, if not even 
so, yet as a ‘free society’. 

Because this morality completed into humanity has fully settled its 
accounts with the religion out of which it historically came forth, 
nothing hinders it from becoming a religion on its own account. For 
a distinction prevails between religion and morality only so long as 
our dealings with the world of men are regulated and hallowed by 
our relation to a superhuman being, or so long as our doing is a 
doing ‘for God’s sake’. If, on the other hand, it comes to the point 
that ‘man is to man the supreme being’, then that distinction vanishes, 
and morality, being removed from its subordinate position, is com- 
pleted into - religion. For then the higher being who had hitherto 
been subordinated to the highest, man, has ascended to absolute 
height, and we are related to him as one is related to the highest 
being, religiously. Morality and piety are now as synonymous as in 
the beginning of Christianity, and it is only because the supreme 
being has come to be a different one that a holy walk is no longer 
called a ‘holy’ one, but a ‘human’ one. If morality has conquered, 
then a complete - change of masters has taken place. 

After the annihilation of faith Feuerbach thinks to put in to the 
supposedly safe harbour of love. ‘The first and highest law must be 
the love of man to man. Homo homini Deus est 11 - this is the supreme 
practical maxim, this is the turning point of the world’s history.’" 
But, properly speaking, only the god is changed - the deus; love has 
remained: there love to the superhuman God, here love to the human 
God, to homo as Deus. Therefore man is to me - sacred. And every- 
thing ‘truly human’ is to me - sacred! ‘Marriage is sacred of itself. 
And so it is with all moral relations. Friendship is and must be sacred 
for you, and property, and marriage, and the good of every man, but 
sacred in and of itself b Haven’t we the priest again there? Who is his 
God? Man with a capital M! What is the divine? The human! Then 
the predicate has indeed only been changed into the subject, and, 
instead of the sentence ‘God is love’, they say ‘love is divine’; instead 
of ‘God has become man’, ‘man has become God’, etc. It is nothing 
more or less than a new - religion. ‘All moral relations are ethical, 
are cultivated with a moral mind, only where of themselves (without 

0 Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, p. 402. 
k Ibid. p. 403. 


The Ego and Its Own 

religious consecration by the priest’s blessing) they are counted 
religious .’ Feuerbach’s proposition, ‘theology is anthropology’, means 
only ‘religion must be ethics, ethics alone is religion’. 

Altogether Feuerbach accomplishes only a transposition of subject 
and predicate, a giving of preference to the latter. But, since he 
himself says, ‘love is not (and has never been considered by men) 
sacred through being a predicate of God, but it is a predicate of God 
because it is divine in and of itself’, he might judge that the fight 
against the predicates themselves, against love and all sanctities, must 
be commenced. How could he hope to turn men away from God 
when he left them the divine? And if, as Feuerbach says, God himself 
has never been the main thing to them, but only his predicates, then 
he might have gone on leaving them the tinsel longer yet, since the 
doll, the real kernel, was left at any rate. He recognizes, too, that 
with him it is ‘only a matter of annihilating an illusion’; he thinks, 
however, that the effect of the illusion on men is ‘downright ruinous, 
since even love, in itself the truest, most inward sentiment, becomes 
an obscure, illusory one through religiousness, since religious love 
loves man only for God’s sake, therefore loves man only apparently, 
but in truth God only’.* Is this different with moral love? Does it love 
the man, this man for this man’s sake, or for morality’s sake, and so - 
for homo homini Deus - for God’s sake? 

The wheels in the head have a number of other formal aspects, some 
of which it may be useful to indicate here. 

Thus self-renunciation [Selbstverleugnung] is common to the holy 
with the unholy, to the pure and the impure. The impure man 
renounces all ‘better feelings’, all shame, even natural timidity, and 
follows only the appetite that rules him. The pure man renounces 
his natural relation to the world (‘renounces the world’) and follows 
only the ‘desire’ which rules him. Driven by the thirst for money, the 
avaricious man renounces all admonitions of conscience, all feeling 
of honour, all gentleness and all compassion; he puts all consider- 
ations out of sight; the appetite drags him along. The holy man 
behaves similarly. He makes himself the ‘laughing-stock of the 
world’, is hard-hearted and ‘strictly just’; for the desire drags him 
along. As the unholy man renounces himself before Mammon, so the 

a Ibid. p. 408. 


Men of the old time and the new 

holy man renounces himself before God and the divine laws. We are 
now living in a time when the shamelessness of the holy is every day 
more and more felt and uncovered, whereby it is at the same time 
compelled to unveil itself, and lay itself bare, more and more every 
day. Have not the shamelessness and stupidity of the reasons with 
which men antagonize the ‘progress of the age’ long surpassed all 
measure and all expectation? But it must be so. The self-renouncers 
must, as holy men, take the same course that they do as unholy men; 
as the latter little by little sink to the fullest measure of self- 
renouncing vulgarity and lowness, so the former must ascend to the 
most dishonourable exaltation. The Mammon of the earth and the 
God of heaven both demand exactly the same degree of - self- 
renunciation. The low man, like the exalted one, reaches out for a 
‘good’ - the former for the material good, the latter for the ideal, the 
so-called ‘supreme good’; and at last both complete each other again 
too, as the ‘materially minded’ man sacrifices everything to an ideal 
phantasm, his vanity, and the ‘spiritually minded’ man to a material 
gratification, the life of enjoyment. 

Those who exhort men to ‘unselfishness [ Uneigenniitzigkeit\ think 
they are saying an uncommon deal. What do they understand by it? 
Probably something like what they understand by ‘self-renunciation’. 
But who is this self that is to be renounced and to have no benefit? 
It seems that you yourself are supposed to be it. And for whose benefit 
is unselfish self-renunciation recommended to you? Again for your 
benefit and behoof, only that through unselfishness you are procuring 
your ‘true benefit’. 

You are to benefit yourself, and yet you are not to seek your benefit. 

People regard as unselfish the benefactor of men, a Francke 78 who 
founded the orphan asylum, an O’Connell 79 who works tirelessly for 
his Irish people; but also the fanatic who, like St Boniface , 80 hazards 
his life for the conversion of the heathen, or, like Robespierre , 81 
sacrifices everything to virtue, like Korner , 82 dies for God, king, and 
fatherland. Hence, among others, O’Connell’s opponents try to 
trump up against him some selfishness or mercenariness, for which 
the O’Connell fund seemed to give them a foundation; for, if they 
were successful in casting suspicion on his ‘unselfishness’, they would 
easily separate him from his adherents. 

Yet what could they show further than that O’Connell was working 
for another end than the ostensible one? But, whether he may aim at 


The Ego and Its Own 

making money or at liberating the people, it still remains certain, in one 
case as in the other, that he is striving for an end, and that his end; 
selfishness here as there, only that his national self-interest would be 
beneficial to others too , and so would be for the common interest. 

Now, do you suppose unselfishness is unreal and nowhere extant? 
On the contrary, nothing is more ordinary! One may even call it 
an article of fashion in the civilized world, which is considered so 
indispensable that, if it costs too much in solid material, people at 
least adorn themselves with its tinsel counterfeit and feign it. Where 
does unselfishness begin? Right where an end ceases to be our end 
and our property [ Eigentum ], which we, as owners, can dispose of at 
pleasure; where it becomes a fixed end or a - fixed idea; where it 
begins to inspire, enthuse, fanaticize us; in short, where it passes into 
our stubbornness and becomes our - master. One is not unselfish so 
long as he retains the end in his power; one becomes so only at that 
‘Here I stand, I can do no other ’, 83 the fundamental maxim of all the 
possessed; one becomes so in the case of a sacred end, through the 
corresponding sacred zeal. 

I am not unselfish so long as the end remains my own , and I, 
instead of giving myself up to be the blind means of its fulfilment, 
leave it always an open question. My zeal need not on that account 
be slacker than the most fanatical, but at the same time I remain 
toward it frostily cold, unbelieving, and its most irreconcilable enemy; 
I remain its judge, because I am its owner. 

Unselfishness grows rank as far as possessedness reaches, as much 
on possessions of the devil as on those of a good spirit; there vice, 
folly, and the like; here humility, devotion, and so forth. 

Where could one look without meeting victims of self- 
renunciation? There sits a girl opposite me, who perhaps has been 
making bloody sacrifices to her soul for ten years already. Over the 
buxom form droops a deathly tired head, and pale cheeks betray the 
slow bleeding away of her youth. Poor child, how often the passions 
may have beaten at your heart, and the rich powers of youth have 
demanded their right! When your head rolled in the soft pillow, how 
awakening nature quivered through your limbs, the blood swelled 
your veins, and fiery fancies poured the gleam of voluptuousness into 
your eyes! Then appeared the ghost of the soul and its external bliss. 
You were terrified, your hands folded themselves, your tormented 
eye turned its look upward, you - prayed. The storms of nature were 


Men of the old time and the new 

hushed, a calm glided over the ocean of your appetites. Slowly the 
weary eyelids sank over the life extinguished under them, the tension 
crept out unperceived from the rounded limbs, the boisterous waves 
dried up in the heart, the folded hands themselves rested a powerless 
weight on the unresisting bosom, one last faint ‘Oh dear!’ moaned 
itself away, and - the soul was at rest . You fell asleep, to awake in the 
morning to a new combat and a new - prayer. Now the habit of 
renunciation cools the heat of your desire, and the roses of your 
youth are growing pale in the - chlorosis of your heavenliness. The 
soul is saved, the body may perish! O Lais , 84 O Ninon , 85 how well 
you did to scorn this pale virtue! One free grisette against a thousand 
virgins grown grey in virtue! 

The fixed idea may also be perceived as ‘maxim’, ‘principle’, 
‘standpoint’, and the like. Archimedes , 86 to move the earth, asked for 
a standpoint outside it. Men sought continually for this standpoint, 
and every one seized upon it as well as he was able. This foreign 
standpoint is the world of mind , of ideas, thoughts, concepts, essences; 
it is heaven. Heaven is the ‘standpoint’ from which the earth is moved, 
earthly doings surveyed and - despised. To assure to themselves 
heaven, to occupy the heavenly standpoint firmly and for ever - how 
painfully and tirelessly humanity struggled for this! 

Christianity has aimed to deliver us from a life determined by 
nature, from the appetites as actuating us, and so has meant that man 
should not let himself be determined by his appetites. This does not 
involve the idea that he was not to have appetites, but that the appe- 
tites were not to have him, that they were not to become fixed , uncon- 
trollable, indissoluble. Now, could not what Christianity (religion) 
contrived against the appetites be applied by us to its own precept that 
mind (thought, conceptions, ideas, faith) must determine us; could we 
not ask that neither should mind, or the conception, the idea, be 
allowed to determine us, to become fixed and inviolable or ‘sacred’? 
Then it would end in the dissolution of mind , the dissolution of all 
thoughts, of all conceptions. As we there had to say, ‘we are indeed 
to have appetites, but the appetites are not to have us’, so we should 
now say, ‘we are indeed to have mind , but mind is not to have us’. 
If the latter seems lacking in sense, think of the fact that with so 
many a man a thought becomes a ‘maxim’, whereby he himself is 
made prisoner to it, so that it is not he that has the maxim, but rather 
it that has him. And with the maxim he has a ‘permanent standpoint’ 


The Ego and Its Own 

again. The doctrines of the catechism become our principles before 
we find it out, and no longer brook rejection. Their thought, or - 
mind, has the sole power, and no protest of the ‘flesh’ is further 
listened to. Nevertheless it is only through the ‘flesh’ that I can break 
the tyranny of mind; for it is only when a man hears his flesh along 
with the rest of him that he hears himself wholly, and it is only when 
he wholly hears himself that he is a hearing or rational [vemehmend 
oder vemiinftig ] being. The Christian does not hear the agony of his 
enthralled nature, but lives in ‘humility’; therefore he does not grum- 
ble at the wrong which befalls his person ; he thinks himself satisfied 
with the ‘freedom of the spirit’. But, if the flesh once takes the floor, 
and its tone is ‘passionate’, ‘indecorous’, ‘not well-disposed’, ‘spiteful’ 
(as it cannot be otherwise), then he thinks he hears voices of devils, 
voices against the spirit (for decorum, passionlessness, kindly dispo- 
sition, and the like, is - spirit), and is justly zealous against them. He 
could not be a Christian if he were willing to endure them. He listens 
only to morality, and slaps unmorality in the mouth; he listens only 
to legality, and gags the lawless word. The spirit of morality and 
legality holds him a prisoner; a rigid, unbending master. They call 
that the ‘mastery of the spirit’ - it is at the same time the standpoint 
of the spirit. 

And now whom do the ordinary liberal gentlemen mean to make 
free? Whose freedom is it that they cry out and thirst for? The spirit’ s\ 
That of the spirit of morality, legality, piety, the fear of God. That 
is what the anti-liberal gentlemen also want, and the whole contention 
between the two turns on a matter of advantage - whether the latter 
are to be the only speakers, or the former are to receive a ‘share in 
the enjoyment of the same advantage’. The spirit remains the absolute 
lord for both, and their only quarrel is over who shall occupy the 
hierarchical throne that pertains to the ‘Vicegerent of the Lord’. The 
best of it is that one can calmly look upon the stir with the certainty 
that the wild beasts of history will tear each other to pieces just like 
those of nature; their putrefying corpses fertilize the ground for - 
our crops. 

We shall come back later to many another wheel in the head - for 
instance, those of vocation, truthfulness, love, and the like. 

When one’s own [Eigene] is contrasted with what is imparted [. Eingegeb - 
enen] to him, there is no use in objecting that we cannot have anything 


Men of the old time and the new 

isolated, but receive everything as a part of the universal order, and 
therefore through the impression of what is around us, and that 
consequently we have it as something ‘imparted’; for there is a great 
difference between the feelings and thoughts which are aroused in 
me by other things and those which are given to me. God, immortality, 
freedom, humanity, are drilled into us from childhood as thoughts 
and feelings which move our inner being more or less strongly, either 
ruling us without our knowing it, or sometimes in richer natures 
manifesting themselves in systems and works of art; but are always 
not aroused, but imparted, feelings, because we must believe in them 
and cling to them. That an Absolute existed, and that it must be 
taken in, felt, and thought by us, was settled as a faith in the minds 
of those who spent all the strength of their mind on recognizing it 
and setting it forth. The feeling for the Absolute exists there as an 
imparted one, and thenceforth results only in the most manifold rev- 
elations of its own self. So in Klopstock 87 the religious feeling was 
an imparted one, which in Der Messias simply found artistic 
expression. If, on the other hand, the religion with which he was 
confronted had been for him only an incitation to feeling and thought, 
and if he had known how to take an attitude completely his own 
toward it, then there would have resulted, instead of religious inspi- 
ration, a dissolution and consumption of the religion itself. Instead 
of that, he only continued in mature years his childish feelings 
received in childhood, and squandered the powers of his manhood 
in decking out his childish trifles. 

The difference is, then, whether feelings are imparted to me or 
only aroused. Those which are aroused are my own, egoistic, because 
they are not as feelings drilled into me, dictated to me, and pressed 
upon me; but those which are imparted to me I receive, with open 
arms, I cherish them in me as a heritage, cultivate them, and am 
possessed by them. Who is there that has never, more or less con- 
sciously, noticed that our whole education is calculated to produce 
feelings in us, impart them to us, instead of leaving their production 
to ourselves however they may turn out? If we hear the name of God, 
we are to feel veneration; if we hear that of the prince’s majesty, it 
is to be received with reverence, deference, submission; if we hear 
that of morality, we are to think that we hear something inviolable; 
if we hear of the Evil One or evil ones, we are to shudder. The 
intention is directed to these feelings , and he who should hear with 


The Ego and Its Own 

pleasure the deeds of the ‘bad’ would have to be ‘taught what’s what’ 
with the rod of discipline. Thus stuffed with imparted feelings , we 
appear before the bar of majority and are ‘pronounced of age’. Our 
equipment consists of ‘elevating feelings, lofty thoughts, inspiring 
ma»ms, eternal principles’. The young are of age when they twitter 
like the old; they are driven through school to learn the old song, 
and, when they have this by heart, they are declared of age. 

We must not feel at every thing and every name that comes before 
us what we could and would like to feel on that occasion; at the name 
of God we must think of nothing laughable, feel nothing disrespect- 
ful, it being prescribed and imparted to us what and how we are to 
feel and think at mention of that name. 

That is the meaning of the care of souls , that my soul or my mind 
be tuned as others think right, not as I myself would like it. How 
much trouble does it not cost one, finally to secure to oneself a feeling 
of one’s own at the mention of at least this or that name, and to laugh 
in the face of many who expect from us a holy face and a composed 
expression at their speeches. What is imparted is alien to us, is not 
our own, and therefore is ‘sacred’, and it is hard work to lay aside 
the ‘sacred dread of it’. 

Today one again hears ‘seriousness’ praised, ‘seriousness in the 
presence of highly important subjects and discussions’, ‘German 
seriousness’, and so on. This sort of seriousness proclaims clearly 
how old and grave lunacy and possession have already become. For 
there is nothing more serious than a lunatic when he comes to the 
central point of his lunacy; then his great earnestness incapacitates 
him for taking a joke. (See madhouses.) 

§3 The hierarchy 

The historical reflections on our Mongolism which I propose to insert 
episodically at this place are not given with the claim of thoroughness, 
or even of approved soundness, but solely because it seems to me 
that they may contribute towards making the rest clear. 

The history of the world, whose shaping properly belongs alto- 
gether to the Caucasian race, seems until now to have run through 
two Caucasian ages, in the first of which we had to work out and 
work off our innate Negroidity\ this was followed in the second by 
Mongoloidity (Chineseness), which must likewise be terribly made an 


Men of the old time and the new 

end of. Negroidity represents antiquity , the time of dependence on 
things (on cocks’ eating, birds’ flight, on sneezing, on thunder and 
lightning, on the rustling of sacred trees, and so forth); Mongoloidity 
the time of dependence on thoughts, the Christian time. Reserved 
for the future are the words, ‘I am owner of the world of things, and 
I am owner of the world of mind’. 

In the Negroid age fall the campaigns of Sesostris 88 and the 
importance of Egypt and of northern Africa in general. To the Mon- 
goloid age belong the invasions of the Huns and Mongols, up to the 

The value of me cannot possibly be rated high so long as the hard 
diamond of the not-me bears so enormous a price as was the case 
both with God and with the world. The not-me is still too stony and 
indomitable to be consumed and absorbed by me; rather, men only 
creep about with extraordinary bustle on this immovable entity, on this 
substance , like parasitic animals on a body from whose juices they draw 
nourishment, yet without consuming it. It is the bustle of vermin, the 
assiduity of Mongolians. Among the Chinese, we know, everything 
remains as it used to be, and nothing ‘essential’ or ‘substantial’ suffers 
a change; all the more actively do they work away at that which 
remains, which bears the name of the ‘old’, ‘ancestors’, and the like. 

Accordingly, in our Mongolian age all change has been only 
reformatory or ameliorative, not destructive or consuming and anni- 
hilating. The substance, the object, remains. All our assiduity was only 
the activity of ants and the hopping of fleas, jugglers’ tricks on the 
immovable tight-rope of the objective, corvee- service under the leader- 
ship of the unchangeable or ‘eternal’. The Chinese are doubtless the 
most positive nation, because totally buried in precepts; but neither has 
the Christian age come out from the positive , from ‘limited freedom’, 
freedom ‘within certain limits’. In the most advanced stage of civiliz- 
ation this activity earns the name of scientific activity, of working on a 
motionless presupposition, a hypothesis that is not to be upset. 

In its first and most unintelligible form morality shows itself as 
habit. To act according to the custom [Sitte] and habit of one’s 
country - is to be moral [sittlich] there . 89 Therefore pure moral action, 
clear, unadulterated morality, is most straightforwardly practised in 
China; they keep to the old habit and usage, and hate each innovation 
as a crime worthy of death. For innovation is the deadly enemy of 
habit, of the old, of permanence. In fact, too, it admits of no doubt that 


The Ego and Its Own 

through habit man secures himself against the obtrusiveness of 
things, of the world, and founds a world of his own in which alone 
he is and feels at home, builds himself a heaven. Why, heaven has no 
other meaning than that it is man’s proper home, in which nothing 
alien regulates and rules him any longer, no influence of the earthly 
any longer makes him himself alien; in short, in which the dross of 
the earthly is thrown off, and the combat against the world has found 
an end - in which, therefore, nothing is any longer denied him. 
Heaven is the end of abnegation , it is free enjoyment. There man no 
longer denies himself anything, because nothing is any longer alien 
and hostile to him. But now habit is a ‘second nature’, which detaches 
and frees man from his first and original natural condition, in secur- 
ing him against every casualty of it. The fully elaborated habit of the 
Chinese has provided for all emergencies, and everything is ‘looked 
out for’; whatever may come, the Chinaman always knows how he 
has to behave, and does not need to decide first according to the 
circumstances; no unforeseen case throws him down from the heaven 
of his rest. The morally habituated and inured Chinaman is not 
surprised and taken off his guard; he behaves with equanimity (that 
is, with equal spirit or temper) toward everything, because his temper, 
protected by the precaution of his traditional usage, does not lose its 
balance. Hence, on the ladder of culture or civilization humanity 
mounts the first round through habit; and, as it conceives that, in 
climbing to culture, it is at the same time climbing to heaven, the 
realm of culture or second nature, it really mounts the first round of 
the - ladder to heaven. 

If Mongoldom has settled the existence of spiritual beings - if it has 
created a world of spirits, a heaven - the Caucasians have wrestled for 
thousands of years with these spiritual beings, to get to the bottom 
of them. What were they doing, then, but building on Mongolian 
ground? They have not built on sand, but in the air; they have 
wrestled with Mongolism, stormed the Mongolian heaven, Tien. 
When will they at last annihilate this heaven? When will they at last 
become really Caucasians , and find themselves? When will the 
‘immortality of the soul’, which in these latter days thought it was 
giving itself still more security if it presented itself as ‘immortality of 
mind’, at last change to the mortality of mind ? 

It was when, in the industrious struggle of the Mongolian race, 
men had built a heaven , that those of the Caucasian race, since in 


Men of the old time and the new 

their Mongolian complexion they have to do with heaven, took upon 
themselves the opposite task, the task of storming that heaven of 
custom, heaven- storming™ activity. To dig under all human ordinance, 
in order to set up a new and - better one on the cleared site, to 
wreck all customs in order to put new and - better customs in their 
place - their act is limited to this. But is it thus already purely and 
really what it aspires to be, and does it reach its final aim? No, in 
this creation of a ‘ better ’ it is tainted with Mongolism. It storms 
heaven only to make a heaven again, it overthrows an old power only 
to legitimate a new power, it only - improves. Nevertheless the point 
aimed at, often as it may vanish from the eyes at every new attempt, 
is the real, complete downfall of heaven, customs - in short, of man 
secured only against the world, of the isolation or inwardness of man. 
Through the heaven of culture man seeks to isolate himself from the 
world, to break its hostile power. But this isolation of heaven must 
likewise be broken, and the true end of heaven-storming is the - 
downfall of heaven, the annihilation of heaven. Improving and 
reforming is the Mongolism of the Caucasian, because thereby he is 
always getting up again what already existed, namely, a precept , a 
generality, a heaven. He harbours the most irreconcilable enmity to 
heaven, and yet builds new heavens daily; piling heaven on heaven, 
he only crushes one by another; the Jews’ heaven destroys the 
Greeks’, the Christians’ the Jews’, the Protestants’ the Catholics’. - 
If the heaven-storming men of Caucasian blood throw off their Mon- 
golian skin, they will bury the emotional man under the ruins of the 
monstrous world of emotion, the isolated man under his isolated 
world, the paradisiacal man under his heaven. And heaven is the 
realm of spirits , the realm of freedom of the spirit. 

The realm of heaven, the realm of spirits and ghosts, has found 
its right standing in the speculative philosophy. Here it was stated as 
the realm of thoughts, concepts, and ideas; heaven is peopled with 
thoughts and ideas, and this ‘realm of spirits’ is then the true reality. 

To want to win freedom for the spirit is Mongolism; freedom of 
the spirit is Mongolian freedom, freedom of feeling, moral freedom, 
and so forth. 

We may find the word ‘morality’ taken as synonymous with sponta- 
neity, self-determination. But that is not involved in it; rather has the 
Caucasian shown himself spontaneous only in spite of his Mongolian 
morality. The Mongolian heaven, or morals, remained the strong 


The Ego and Its Own 

castle, and only by storming incessantly at this castle did the Cauca- 
sian show himself moral; if he had not had to do with morals at all 
any longer, if he had not had therein his indomitable, continual 
enemy, the relation to morals would cease, and consequently morality 
would cease. That his spontaneity is still a moral spontaneity, there- 
fore, is just the Mongoloidity of it, is a sign that in it he has not 
arrived at himself. ‘Moral spontaneity’ corresponds entirely with 
‘religious and orthodox philosophy’, ‘constitutional monarchy’, ‘the 
Christian State’, ‘freedom within certain limits’, ‘the limited freedom 
of the press’, or, in a figure, to the hero fettered to a sick-bed. 

Man has not really vanquished Shamanism and its spooks until he 
possesses the strength to lay aside not only the belief in ghosts or in 
spirits, but also the belief in the spirit. 

He who believes in a spook no more assumes the ‘introduction of 
a higher world’ than he who believes in the spirit, and both seek 
behind the sensual world a supersensual one; in short, they produce 
and believe another world, and this other world , the product of their 
mind , is a spiritual world; for their senses grasp and know nothing of 
another, a non-sensual world, only their spirit lives in it. Going on 
from this Mongolian belief in the existence of spiritual beings to the 
point that the proper being of man too is his spirit, and that all care 
must be directed to this alone, to the ‘welfare of his soul’, is not 
hard. Influence on the spirit, so-called ‘moral influence’, is hereby 

Hence it is manifest that Mongolism represents utter absence of 
any rights of the sensuous, represents non-sensuousness and unnat- 
ure, and that sin and the consciousness of sin was our Mongolian 
torment that lasted thousands of years. 

But who, then, will dissolve the spirit into its nothing ? He who by 
means of the spirit set forth nature as the null, finite, transitory, he 
alone can bring down the spirit too to like nullity. I can; each one 
among you can, who does his will as an absolute I; in a word, the 
egoist can. 

Before the sacred, people lose all sense of power and all confidence; 
they occupy a powerless and humble attitude toward it. And yet no 
thing is sacred of itself, but by my declaring it sacred, by my declaration, 
my judgement, my bending the knee; in short, by my - conscience. 


Men of the old time and the new 

Sacred is everything which for the egoist is to be unapproachable, 
not to be touched, outside his power, above him ; sacred, in a word, 
is every matter of conscience, for ‘this is a matter of conscience to me’ 
means simply, ‘I hold this sacred’. 

For little children, just as for animals, nothing sacred e»sts, 
because, in order to make room for this conception, one must already 
have progressed so far in understanding that he can make distinctions 
like ‘good and bad’, ‘warranted and unwarranted’; only at such a level 
of reflection or intelligence - the proper standpoint of religion - can 
unnatural (that is, brought into existence by thinking) reverence, 
‘sacred dread’, step into the place of natural fear. To this sacred 
dread belongs holding something outside oneself for mightier, 
greater, better warranted, better; the attitude in which one acknowl- 
edges the might of something alien, not merely feels it, then, but 
expressly acknowledges it, admits it, yields, surrenders, lets himself 
be tied (devotion, humility, servility, submission). Here walks the 
whole ghostly troop of the ‘Christian virtues’. 

Everything toward which you cherish any respect or reverence 
deserves the name of sacred; you yourselves, too, say that you would 
feel a ‘ sacred dread ’ of laying hands on it. And you give this tinge even 
to the unholy (gallows, crime, etc.). You have a horror of touching 
it. There lies in it something uncanny, that is, unfamiliar or not your 
own . 

‘If something or other did not rank as sacred in a man’s mind, why, 
then all bars would be let down to self-will, to unlimited subjectivity!’ 
Fear [Furcht\ makes the beginning, and one can make himself fearful 
to the coarsest man; already, therefore, a barrier against his insolence. 
But in fear there always remains the attempt to liberate oneself from 
what is feared, by guile, deception, tricks, etc. In reverence 
[. Ehrfurcht ], on the contrary, it is quite otherwise. Here something is 
not only feared \gefiirchtet], but also honoured [geehrt]: what is feared 
has become an inward power which I can no longer get clear of; I 
honour it, am captivated by it and devoted to it, belong to it; by the 
honour which I pay it I am completely in its power, and do not even 
attempt liberation any longer. Now I am attached to it with all the 
strength of faith; I believe . I and what I fear are one; ‘not I live, but 
the respected lives in me!’ Because the spirit, the infinite, does not 
allow of coming to any end, therefore it is stationary; it fears dying, 


The Ego and Its Own 

it cannot let go its dear Jesus, the greatness of finiteness is no longer 
recognized by its blinded eye; the object of fear, now raised to vener- 
ation, may no longer be handled; reverence is made eternal, the 
respected is deified. The man is now no longer employed in creating, 
but in learning (knowing, investigating), occupied with a fixed object , 
losing himself in its depths, without return to himself. The relation to 
this object is that of knowing, fathoming, basing, not that of dissolution 
(abrogation). ‘Man is to be religious’, that is settled; therefore people 
busy themselves only with the question how this is to be attained, 
what is the right meaning of religiousness, etc. Quite otherwise when 
one makes the axiom itself doubtful and calls it in question, even 
though it should get lost in the process. Morality too is such a sacred 
conception; one must be moral, and must look only for the right 
‘how’, the right way to be so. One dares not go at morality itself with 
the question whether it is not itself an illusion; it remains exalted 
above all doubt, unchangeable. And so we go on with the sacred, 
grade after grade, from the ‘holy’ to the ‘holy of holies’. 

Men are sometimes divided into two classes: cultured and uncultured. 
The former, so far as they were worthy of their name, occupied 
themselves with thoughts, with mind, and (because in the time since 
Christ, of which the very principle is thought, they were the ruling 
ones) demanded a servile respect for the thoughts recognized by 
them. State, emperor, church, God, morality, order, are such 
thoughts or spirits, that exist only for the mind. A merely living being, 
an animal, cares as little for them as a child. But the uncultured are 
really nothing but children, and he who attends only to the necessities 
of his life is indifferent to those spirits; but, because he is also weak 
before them, he succumbs to their power, and is ruled by - thoughts. 
This is the meaning of hierarchy. 

Hierarchy is dominion of thoughts , dominion of mind! 

We are hierarchic to this day, kept down by those who are sup- 
ported by thoughts. Thoughts are the sacred. 

But the two are always clashing, now one and now the other giving 
the offence; and this clash occurs, not only in the collision of two 
men, but in one and the same man. For no cultured man is so 
cultured as not to find enjoyment in things too, and so be uncultured; 
and no uncultured man is totally without thoughts. In Hegel it comes 
to light at last what a longing for things even the most cultured man 


Men of the old time and the new 

has, and what a horror of every ‘hollow theory’ he harbours. With 
him reality, the world of things, is altogether to correspond to the 
thought, and no concept is to be without reality. This caused Hegel’s 
system to be known as the most objective, as if in it thought and 
thing celebrated their union. But this was simply the extremest case 
of violence on the part of thought, its highest pitch of despotism 
and sole dominion, the triumph of mind, and with it the triumph of 
philosophy. Philosophy cannot hereafter achieve anything higher, for 
its highest is the omnipotence of mind , the almightiness of mind." 

Spiritual men have taken into their head something that is to be 
realized. They have concepts of love, goodness, and the like, which 
they would like to see realized ; therefore they want to set up a kingdom 
of love on earth, in which no one any longer acts from selfishness, 
but each one ‘from love’. Love is to rule. What they have taken into 
their head, what shall we call it but - fixed ideal Why, ‘their head is 
haunted\ The most oppressive spook is man. Think of the proverb, 
‘the road to ruin is paved with good intentions’. The intention to 
realize humanity altogether in oneself, to become altogether man, is 
of such ruinous kind; here belong the intentions to become good, 
noble, loving, and so forth. 

In the sixth part of the Denkrviirdigkeiten , Bruno Bauer says: 

That middle class [. Burgerklasse] , which was to receive such a 
terrible importance for modern history, is capable of no self- 
sacrificing action, no enthusiasm for an idea, no exaltation; it 
devotes itself to nothing but the interests of its mediocrity; i.e. it 
remains always limited to itself, and conquers at last only through 
its bulk, with which it has succeeded in tiring out the efforts of 
passion, enthusiasm, consistency, through its surface, into which 
it absorbs a part of the new ideas/ 

And ‘It has turned the revolutionary ideas, for which not it, but 
unselfish or impassioned men sacrificed themselves, solely to its own 
profit, has turned spirit into money. - That is, to be sure, after it 

“ Rousseau, 91 the philanthropists, and others, were hostile to culture and intelligence, 
but they overlooked the fact that this is present in all men of the Christian type, and 
assailed only learned and refined culture. 

h Bruno Bauer, Die Septembertage 1792 und die ersteti Karnpfe der Parteien der Republik 
in Frankreich, Part 1 (Charlottenburg, 1844), p. 7. {Denkrviirdigkeiten zur Geschichte der 
neueren Zeit seit der Franzdsischen Revolution. Nach den Quellen und Original-Memoiren 
bearbeitet und hrsg. von Bruno Bauer und Edgar Bauer.) 


The Ego and Its Own 

had taken away from those ideas their point, their consistency, their 
destructive seriousness, fanatical against all egoism. ,a These people, 
then, are not self-sacrificing, not enthusiastic, not idealistic, not con- 
sistent, not zealots; they are egoists in the usual sense, selfish people, 
looking out for their advantage, sober, calculating. 

Who, then, is ‘self-sacrificing’? In the full sense, surely, he who 
ventures everything else for one thing, one object, one will, one pas- 
sion. Is not the lover self-sacrificing who forsakes father and mother, 
endures all dangers and privations, to reach his goal? Or the 
ambitious man, who offers up all his desires, wishes, and satisfactions 
to the single passion, or the avaricious man who denies himself every- 
thing to gather treasures, or the pleasure-seeker? He is ruled by a 
passion to which he brings the rest as sacrifices. 

And are these self-sacrificing people perchance not selfish, not 
egoist? As they have only one ruling passion, so they provide for only 
one satisfaction, but for this the more strenuously; they are wholly 
absorbed in it. Their entire activity is egoistic, but it is a one-sided, 
unopened, narrow egoism; it is possessedness. 

‘Why, those are petty passions, by which, on the contrary, man 
must not let himself be enthralled. Man must make sacrifices for a 
great idea, a great cause!’ A ‘great idea’, a ‘good cause’, is, it may be, 
the honour of God, for which innumerable people have met death; 
Christianity, which has found its willing martyrs; the Holy Catholic 
Church, which has greedily demanded sacrifices of heretics; liberty 
and equality, which were waited on by bloody guillotines. 

He who lives for a great idea, a good cause, a doctrine, a system, 
a lofty calling, may not let any worldly lusts, any self-seeking interest, 
spring up in him. Here we have the concept of clericalism , or, as it 
may also be called in its pedagogic activity, school -masterliness; for 
the idealists play the schoolmaster over us. The clergyman is 
especially called to live to the idea and to work for the idea, the truly 
good cause. Therefore the people feel how little it befits him to show 
worldly arrogance, to desire good living, to join in such pleasures as 
dancing and gambling, in short, to have any other than a ‘sacred 
interest’. Hence, too, doubtless, is derived the scanty salary of teach- 
ers, who are to feel themselves repaid by the sacredness of their 
calling alone, and to ‘renounce’ other enjoyments. 

“ Ibid. p. 6. 


Men of the old time and the new 

Even a directory of the sacred ideas, one or more of which man 
is to look upon as his calling, is not lacking. Family, fatherland, 
science, etc., may find in me a servant faithful to his calling. 

Here we come upon the old, old craze of the world, which has not 
yet learned to do without clericalism: that to live and work for an idea 
is man’s calling, and according to the faithfulness of its fulfilment his 
human worth is measured. 

This is the dominion of the idea; in other words, it is clericalism. 
Thus Robespierre and St Just 92 were priests through and through, 
inspired by the idea, enthusiasts, consistent instruments of this idea, 
idealistic men. So St Just exclaims in a speech: 

There is something terrible in the sacred love of country, it is so 
exclusive that it sacrifices everything to the public interest without 
mercy, without fear, without human consideration. It hurls Man- 
lius 93 down the precipice; it sacrifices its private inclinations; it 
leads Regulus 94 to Carthage, throws a Roman into the chasm, 
and sets Marat , 95 as a victim of his devotion, in the Pantheon. 

Now, over against these representatives of ideal or sacred interests 
stands a world of innumerable ‘personal’ profane interests. No idea, 
no system, no sacred cause is so great as never to be outrivalled and 
modified by these personal interests. Even if they are silent momen- 
tarily, and in times of rage and fanaticism, yet they soon come upper- 
most again through ‘the sound sense of the people’. Those ideas do 
not completely conquer until they are no longer hostile to personal 
interests, until they satisfy egoism. 

The man who is just now crying herrings in front of my window 
has a personal interest in good sales, and, if his wife or anybody else 
wishes him the like, this remains a personal interest all the same. If, 
on the other hand, a thief deprived him of his basket, then there 
would at once arise an interest of many, of the whole city, of the 
whole country, or, in a word, of all who abhor theft; an interest in 
which the herring-seller’s person would become indifferent, and in 
its place the category of the ‘robbed man’ would come into the fore- 
ground. But even here all might yet resolve itself into a personal 
interest, each of the partakers reflecting that he must concur in the 
punishment of the thief because unpunished stealing might otherwise 
become general and cause him too to lose his own. Such a calculation, 
however, can hardly be assumed on the part of many, and we shall 
rather hear the cry that the thief is a ‘criminal’. Here we have before 


The Ego and Its Own 

us a judgement, the thief’s action receiving its expression in the con- 
cept ‘crime’. Now the matter stands thus: even if a crime did not 
cause the slightest damage either to me or to any of those in whom 
I take an interest, I should nevertheless denounce it. Why? Because I 
am enthusiastic for morality, filled with the idea of morality; what is 
hostile to it I everywhere assail. Because in his mind theft ranks as 
abominable without any question, Proudhon, for instance, thinks that 
with the sentence ‘property is theft’ he has at once denounced prop- 
erty. In the sense of the priestly, theft is always a crime, or at least a 

Here the personal interest is at an end. This particular person who 
has stolen the basket is perfectly indifferent to my person; it is only 
the thief, this concept of which that person presents a specimen, that 
I take an interest in. The thief and man are in my mind irreconcilable 
opposites; for one is not truly man when one is a thief; one degrades 
man or ‘humanity’ in himself when one steals. Dropping out of per- 
sonal concern, one gets into philanthropism, friendliness to man, 
which is usually misunderstood as if it was a love to men, to each 
individual, while it is nothing but a love of man, the unreal concept, 
the spook. It is not xoug (iv0Qd)Tcoug, men, but xov av0Qtojtov, 
man, that the philanthropist carries in his heart. To be sure, he cares 
for each individual, but only because he wants to see his beloved 
ideal realized everywhere. 

So there is nothing said here of care for me, you, us; that would 
be personal interest, and belongs under the head of ‘worldly love’. 
Philanthropism is a heavenly, spiritual, a - priestly love. Man must 
be restored in us, even if thereby we poor devils should come to 
grief. It is the same priestly principle as that famous fiat iustitia, 
pereat mundus ; 96 man and justice are ideas, ghosts, for love of which 
everything is sacrificed; therefore, the priestly spirits are the ‘self- 
sacrificing’ ones. 

He who is infatuated with man leaves persons out of account so 
far as that infatuation extends, and floats in an ideal, sacred interest. 
Man, you see, is not a person, but an ideal, a spook. 

Now, things as different as possible can belong to man and be so 
regarded. If one finds man’s chief requirement in piety, there arises 
religious clericalism; if one sees it in morality, then moral clericalism 
raises its head. On this account the priestly spirits of our day want 
to make a ‘religion’ of everything, a ‘religion of liberty’, ‘religion of 


Men of the old time and the new 

equality’, etc., and for them every idea becomes a ‘sacred cause’, 
even citizenship, politics, publicity, freedom of the press, trial by jury. 

Now, what does ‘unselfishness’ mean in this sense? Having only 
an ideal interest, before which no respect of persons avails! 

The pigheadedness of the worldly man opposes this, but for cen- 
turies has always been overcome at least so far as to have to bend 
the unruly neck and ‘honour the higher power’; clericalism pressed 
it down. When the worldly egoist had shaken off a higher power 
(such as the Old Testament law, the Roman Pope), then at once a 
seven times higher one was over him again, such as faith in the place 
of the law, the transformation of all laymen into divines in place of 
the limited body of clergy, and so on. His experience was like that 
of the possessed man into whom seven devils passed when he thought 
he had freed himself from one . 97 

In the passage quoted above, all ideality is denied to the middle 
class. It certainly schemed against the ideal consistency with which 
Robespierre wanted to carry out the principle. The instinct of its 
interest told it that this consistency harmonized too little with what 
its mind was set on, and that it would be acting against itself if it 
were willing to further the enthusiasm for principle. Was it to behave 
so unselfishly as to abandon all its aims in order to bring a harsh 
theory to its triumph? It suits the priests admirably, to be sure, when 
people listen to their summons, ‘Cast away everything and follow 
me’, or ‘Sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt 
have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me ’. 98 Some decided ideal- 
ists obey this call; but most act like Ananias and Sapphira," main- 
taining a behaviour half clerical or religious and half worldly, serving 
God and Mammon. 

I do not blame the middle class for not wanting to let its aims be 
frustrated by Robespierre, for inquiring of its egoism how far it might 
give the revolutionary idea a chance. But one might blame (if blame 
were in place here anyhow) those who let their own interests be 
frustrated by the interests of the middle class. However, will not they 
likewise sooner or later learn to understand what is to their advan- 
tage? August Becker 100 says: 

To win the producers (proletarians) a negation of the traditional 
conception of right is by no means enough. People unfortunately 
care little for the theoretical victory of the idea. One must dem- 


The Ego and Its Own 

onstrate to them ad oculos m how this victory can be practically 
utilized in life." 

And: ‘You must get hold of people by their real interests if you want 
to work upon them.’* Immediately after this he shows how a fine 
looseness of morals is already spreading among our peasants, because 
they prefer to follow their real interests rather than the commands 
of morality. 

Because the revolutionary priests or schoolmasters served man , 
they cut off the heads of men. The revolutionary laymen, those outside 
the sacred circle, did not feel any greater horror of cutting off heads, 
but were less anxious about the rights of man than about their own. 

How comes it, though, that the egoism of those who affirm per- 
sonal interest, and always inquire of it, is nevertheless forever suc- 
cumbing to a priestly or school-masterly, that is, an ideal interest? 
Their person seems to them too small, too insignificant - and is so 
in fact - to lay claim to everything and be able to put itself completely 
in force. There is a sure sign of this in their dividing themselves into 
two persons, an eternal and a temporal, and always caring either only 
for the one or only for the other, on Sunday for the eternal, on the 
work-day for the temporal, in prayer for the former, in work for the 
latter. They have the priest in themselves, therefore they do not get 
rid of him, but hear themselves lectured inwardly every Sunday. 

How men have struggled and calculated to ascertain a solution 
regarding these dualistic essences! Idea followed upon idea, principle 
upon principle, system upon system, and none knew how to keep 
down permanently the contradiction of the ‘worldly’ man, the so- 
called ‘egoist’. Does not this prove that all those ideas were too feeble 
to take up my whole will into themselves and satisfy it? They were 
and remained hostile to me, even if the hostility lay concealed for a 
considerable time. Will it be the same with self- ownership} Is it too 
only an attempt at mediation? Whatever principle I turned to, it might 
be to that of reason , I always had to turn away from it again. Or can 
I always be rational, arrange my life according to reason in everything? 
I can, no doubt, strive after rationality, I can love it, just as I can also 
love God and every other idea. I can be a philosopher, a lover of 

“ August Becker, Die Volksphilosophie unserer Tage (Neumiinster near Zurich, 1843), 
p. 22. 

b Ibid. p. 32. 


Men of the old time and the new 

wisdom, as I love God. But what I love, what I strive for, is only in 
my idea, my conception, my thoughts; it is in my heart, my head, it 
is in me like the heart, but it is not I, I am not it. 

To the activity of priestly minds belongs especially what one often 
hears called ‘ moral influence ’. 

Moral influence takes its start where humiliation begins; yes, it is 
nothing else than this humiliation itself, the breaking and bending of 
the temper [Mutes] down to humility [ Demut ]. If I call to someone to 
run away when a rock is to be blasted, I exert no moral influence by 
this demand; if I say to a child ‘you will go hungry if you will not eat 
what is put on the table’, this is not moral influence. But, if I say to 
it, ‘you will pray, honour your parents, respect the crucifix, speak the 
truth, for this belongs to man and is man’s calling’, or even ‘this is 
God’s will’, then moral influence is complete; then a man is to bend 
before the calling of man, be tractable, become humble, give up his 
will for an alien one which is set up as rule and law; he is to abase 
himself before something higher : self-abasement. ‘He that abaseth 
himself shall be exalted .’ 102 Yes, yes, children must early be made to 
practise piety, godliness, and propriety; a person of good breeding is 
one into whom ‘good maxims’ have been instilled and impressed , 
poured in through a funnel , 103 thrashed in and preached in. 

If one shrugs his shoulders at this, at once the good wring their 
hands despairingly, and cry: ‘But, for heaven’s sake, if one is to give 
children no good instruction, why, then they will run straight into 
the jaws of sin, and become good-for-nothings!’ Gently, you prophets 
of evil. Good-for-nothing in your sense they certainly will become; 
but your sense happens to be a very good-for-nothing sense. The 
impudent rogues will no longer let anything be whined and chattered 
into them by you, and will have no sympathy for all the follies for 
which you have been raving and drivelling since the memory of man 
began; they will abolish the law of inheritance; they will not be willing 
to inherit your stupidities as you inherited them from your fathers; 
they destroy inherited sin. 104 If you command them, ‘Bend before the 
Most High’, they will answer: ‘If he wants to bend us, let him come 
himself and do it; we, at least, will not bend of our own accord.’ And, 
if you threaten them with his wrath and his punishment, they will 
take it like being threatened with the bogey-man. If you are no more 
successful in making them afraid of ghosts, then the dominion of 
ghosts is at an end, and nurses’ tales find no - faith. 


The Ego and Its Own 

And is it not precisely the liberals again that press for good edu- 
cation and improvement of the educational system? For how could 
their liberalism, their ‘liberty within the bounds of law’, come about 
without discipline? Even if they do not exactly educate to the fear of 
God, yet they demand the fear of man all the more strictly, and awaken 
‘enthusiasm for the truly human calling’ by discipline. 

A long time passed away, in which people were satisfied with the 
fancy that they had the truth , without thinking seriously whether per- 
haps they themselves must be true to possess the truth. This time was 
the Middle Ages. With the common consciousness - the consciousness 
which deals with things, that consciousness which has receptivity only 
for things, or for what is sensuous and sense -moving - they thought 
to grasp what did not deal with things and was not perceptible by the 
senses. As one does indeed also exert his eye to see the remote, or 
laboriously exercise his hand until its fingers have become dexterous 
enough to press the keys correctly, so they chastened themselves in 
the most manifold ways, in order to become capable of receiving the 
supersensual wholly into themselves. But what they chastened was, 
after all, only the sensual man, the common consciousness, so-called 
finite or objective thought. Yet as this thought, this understanding, 
which Luther decries under the name of reason, is incapable of com- 
prehending the divine, its chastening contributed just as much to the 
understanding of the truth as if one exercised the feet year in and 
year out in dancing, and hoped that in this way they would finally 
learn to play the flute. Luther, with whom the so-called Middle Ages 
end, was the first who understood that the man himself must become 
other than he was if he wanted to comprehend truth, must become 
as true as truth itself. Only he who already has truth in his belief, 
only he who believes in it, can become a partaker of it; only the believer 
finds it accessible and sounds its depths. Only that organ of man 
which is able to blow can attain the further capacity of flute -playing, 
and only that man can become a partaker of truth who has the right 
organ for it. He who is capable of thinking only what is sensuous, 
objective, pertaining to things, figures to himself in truth only what 
pertains to things. But truth is spirit, stuff altogether inappreciable 
by the senses, and therefore only for the ‘higher consciousness’, not 
for that which is ‘earthly-minded’. 


Men of the old time and the new 

With Luther, accordingly, dawns the perception that truth, because 
it is a thought , is only for the thinking man. And this is to say that 
man must henceforth take an utterly different standpoint, namely, 
the heavenly, believing, scientific standpoint, or that of thought in 
relation to its object, the - thought - that of mind in relation to mind. 
Consequently: only the like apprehend the like. ‘You are like the 
spirit that you understand .’ 105 

Because Protestantism broke the medieval hierarchy, the opinion 
could take root that hierarchy in general had been shattered by it, 
and it could be wholly overlooked that it was precisely a ‘reformation’, 
and so a reinvigoration of the antiquated hierarchy. That medieval 
hierarchy had been only a weakly one, as it had to let all possible 
barbarism of unsanctified things run on uncoerced beside it, and it 
was the Reformation that first steeled the power of hierarchy. If 
Bruno Bauer thinks: 

As the Reformation was mainly the abstract rending of the 
religious principle from art, state, and science, and so its liber- 
ation from those powers with which it had joined itself in the 
antiquity of the church and in the hierarchy of the Middle Ages, 
so too the theological and ecclesiastical movements which pro- 
ceeded from the Reformation are only the consistent carrying 
out of this abstraction of the religious principle from the other 
powers of humanity/' 

I regard precisely the opposite as correct, and think that the dominion 
of spirits, or freedom of mind (which comes to the same thing), was 
never before so all-embracing and all-powerful, because the present 
one, instead of rending the religious principle from art, state, and 
science, lifted the latter altogether out of secularity into the ‘realm 
of spirit’ and made them religious. 

Luther and Descartes have been appropriately put side by side in 
their ‘He who believes, is a God’ and ‘I think, therefore I am’ 
(cogito, ergo sum). Man’s heaven is thought - mind. Everything can 
be wrested from him, except thought, except faith. Particular faith, 

Bruno Bauer, review of Theodor Kliefoth, 106 Einleitung in die Dogmengeschichte, 
(Parchim and Ludwigslust, 1839), in Arnold Ruge 107 (ed.), Anekdota zur neuesten 
deutschen Philosophic und Publizistik, volume 11 (Zurich and Winterthur, 1843), PP- 
152 - 3 - 


The Ego and Its Own 

like faith in Zeus, Astarte , 108 Jehovah, Allah, may be destroyed, but 
faith itself is indestructible. In thought is freedom. What I need and 
what I hunger for is no longer granted to me by any grace , by the 
Virgin Mary, by intercession of the saints, or by the binding and 
loosing church, but I procure it for myself. In short, my being (the 
sum) is a living in the heaven of thought, of mind, a cogitate. But 
I myself am nothing else than mind, thinking mind (according to 
Descartes), believing mind (according to Luther). My body I am not; 
my flesh may suffer from appetites or pains. I am not my flesh, but / 
am mind , only mind. 

This thought runs through the history of the Reformation until 
the present day. 

Only by the more modern philosophy since Descartes has a 
serious effort been made to bring Christianity to complete efficacy 
by exalting the ‘scientific consciousness’ to be the only true and 
valid one. Hence it begins with absolute doubt , dubitare, with 
grinding common consciousness to atoms, with turning away from 
everything that ‘mind’, ‘thought’, does not legitimate. To it nature 
counts for nothing; the opinion of men, their ‘human precepts’, 
for nothing: and it does not rest until it has brought reason into 
everything, and can say ‘The actual is the rational, and only the 
rational is the actual ’. 109 Thus it has at last brought mind, reason, 
to victory; and everything is mind, because everything is rational, 
because all nature, as well as even the perversest opinions of men, 
contains reason; for ‘all must serve for the best’, that is, lead to 
the victory of reason. 

Descartes’ dubitare contains the decided statement that only cogit- 
ate, thought, mind - is. A complete break with ‘common’ conscious- 
ness, which ascribes reality to irrational things! Only the rational is, 
only mind is! This is the principle of modern philosophy, the genuine 
Christian principle. Descartes in his own time discriminated the body 
sharply from the mind, and ‘the spirit ’tis that builds itself the body’, 
says Goethe . 110 

But this philosophy itself, Christian philosophy, still does not get 
rid of the rational, and therefore inveighs against the ‘merely subjec- 
tive’, against ‘fancies, fortuities, arbitrariness’, etc. What it wants is 
that the divine should become visible in everything, and all conscious- 
ness become a knowing of the divine, and man behold God every- 
where; but God never is, without the devil. 

7 8 

Men of the old time and the new 

For this very reason the name of philosopher is not to be given to 
him who has indeed open eyes for the things of the world, a clear 
and undazzled gaze, a correct judgement about the world, but who 
sees in the world just the world, in objects only objects, and, in short, 
everything prosaically as it is; but he alone is a philosopher who sees, 
and points out or demonstrates, heaven in the world, the supernal in 
the earthly, the - divine in the mundane. The former may be ever so 
wise, there is no getting away from this: 

What wise men see not by their wisdom’s art 

Is practised simply by a childlike heart . 111 

It takes this childlike heart, this eye for the divine, to make a philos- 
opher. The first-named man has only a ‘common’ consciousness, but 
he who knows the divine, and knows how to tell it, has a ‘scientific’ 
one. On this ground Bacon 112 was turned out of the realm of philos- 
ophers. And certainly what is called English philosophy seems to 
have got no further than to the discoveries of so-called clear heads 
[offener Kopfe], such as Bacon and Hume . 113 The English did not 
know how to exalt the simplicity of the childlike heart to philosophic 
significance, did not know how to make - philosophers out of child- 
like hearts. This is as much as to say, their philosophy was not able 
to become theological or theology, and yet it is only as theology that it 
can really live itself out, complete itself. The field of its battle to the 
death is in theology. Bacon did not trouble himself about theological 
questions and cardinal points. 

Cognition has its object in life. German thought seeks, more than 
that of others, to reach the beginnings and fountain-heads of life, 
and sees no life until it sees it in cognition itself. Descartes’ cogito, 
ergo sum has the meaning ‘one lives only when one thinks’. Thinking 
life is called ‘intellectual life’! Only mind lives, its life is the true life. 
Then, just as in nature only the ‘eternal laws’, the mind or the reason 
of nature, are its true life. In man, as in nature, only the thought 
lives; everything else is dead! To this abstraction, to the life of gener- 
alities or of that which is lifeless , the history of mind had to come. 
God, who is spirit, alone lives. Nothing lives but the ghost. 

How can one try to assert of modern philosophy or modern times 
that they have reached freedom, since they have not freed us from 
the power of objectivity? Or am I perhaps free from a despot when 
I am not afraid of the personal potentate, to be sure, but of every 


The Ego and Its Own 

infraction of the loving reverence which I imagine I owe him? The 
case is the same with modern times. They only changed the existing 
objects, the real ruler, into conceived objects, into ideas , before which 
the old respect not only was not lost, but increased in intensity. Even 
if people snapped their fingers at God and the devil in their former 
crass reality, people devoted only the greater attention to their ideas. 
‘They are rid of the Evil One; evil is left .’ 114 The decision having 
once been made not to let oneself be imposed on any longer by the 
extant and palpable, little scruple was felt about revolting against the 
easting state or overturning the existing laws; but to sin against the 
idea of the state, not to submit to the idea of law, who would have 
dared that? So one remained a ‘citizen’ and a ‘law-respecting’, loyal 
man; yes, one seemed to himself to be only so much more law- 
respecting, the more rationalistically one abrogated the former defec- 
tive law in order to do homage to the ‘spirit of the law’. In all this 
the objects had only suffered a change of form; they had remained 
in their preponderance and pre-eminence; in short, one was still 
involved in obedience and possessedness, lived in reflection, and had 
an object on which one reflected, which one respected, and before 
which one felt reverence and fear. One had done nothing but trans- 
form the things into conceptions of the things, into thoughts and ideas, 
whereby one’s dependence became all the more intimate and indissol- 
uble. Thus, it is not hard to emancipate oneself from the commands 
of parents, or to set aside the admonitions of uncle and aunt, the 
entreaties of brother and sister; but the renounced obedience easily 
gets into one’s conscience, and the less one does give way to the 
individual demands, because he rationalistically, by his own reason, 
recognizes them to be unreasonable, so much the more conscien- 
tiously does he hold fast to filial piety and family love, and so much 
the harder is it for him to forgive himself a trespass against the 
conception which he has formed of family love and of filial duty. 
Released from dependence as regards the existing family, one falls 
into the more binding dependence on the idea of the family; one is 
ruled by the spirit of the family. The family consisting of Hans, Grete, 
etc., whose dominion has become powerless, is only internalized, 
being left as ‘family’ in general, to which one just applies the old 
saying, ‘We must obey God rather than man ’, 115 whose significance 
here is this: ‘I cannot, to be sure, accommodate myself to your sense- 
less requirements, but, as my “family”, you still remain the object of 


Men of the old time and the new 

my love and care’; for ‘the family’ is a sacred idea, which the individ- 
ual must never offend against. - And this family internalized and 
desensualized into a thought, a conception, now ranks as the ‘sacred’, 
whose despotism is tenf old more grievous because it makes a racket 
in my conscience. This despotism is broken when the conception, 
family, also becomes a nothing to me. The Christian dicta, ‘Woman, 
what have I to do with thee?’ fl ‘I am come to stir up a man against 
his father, and a daughter against her mother’/ and others, are 
accompanied by something that refers us to the heavenly or true 
family, and mean no more than the state’s demand, in case of a 
collision between it and the family, that we obey its commands. 

The case of morality is like that of the family. Many a man 
renounces morals, but with great difficulty the conception, ‘morality’. 
Morality is the ‘idea’ of morals, their intellectual power, their power 
over the conscience; on the other hand, morals are too material to 
rule the mind, and do not fetter an ‘intellectual’ man, a so-called 
independent, a ‘freethinker’. 

The Protestant may put it as he will, the ‘holy scripture’, the ‘Word 
of God’, still remains sacred for him. He for whom this is no longer 
‘holy’ has ceased to - be a Protestant. But herewith what is ‘ordained’ 
in it, the public authorities appointed by God, etc., also remain sacred 
for him. For him these things remain indissoluble, unapproachable, 
‘raised above all doubt’; and, as doubt , which in practice becomes a 
buffeting , is what is most man’s own, these things remain ‘raised’ 
above himself. He who cannot get away from them will - believe ; for 
to believe in them is to be bound to them. Through the fact that in 
Protestantism the faith becomes a more inward faith, the servitude has 
also become a more inward servitude; one has taken those sanctities 
up into himself, entwined them with all his thoughts and endeavours, 
made them a ‘ matter of conscience', constructed out of them a ‘ sacred 
duty ’ for himself. Therefore what the Protestant’s conscience cannot 
get away from is sacred to him, and conscientiousness most clearly 
designates his character. 

Protestantism has actually put a man in the position of a country 
governed by secret police. The spy and eavesdropper, ‘conscience’, 
watches over every motion of the mind, and all thought and action 

a John 2:4. * Matthew 10:35. 


The Ego and Its Own 

is for it a ‘matter of conscience’, that is, police business. This tearing 
apart of man into ‘natural impulse’ and ‘conscience’ (inner populace 
and inner police) is what constitutes the Protestant. The reason of 
the Bible (in place of the Catholic ‘reason of the church’) ranks as 
sacred, and this feeling and consciousness that the word of the Bible 
is sacred is called - conscience. With this, then, sacredness is ‘laid 
upon one’s conscience’. If one does not free himself from conscience, 
the consciousness of the sacred, he may act unconscientiously indeed, 
but never consciencelessly. 

The Catholic finds himself satisfied when he fulfils the command ; 
the Protestant acts according to his ‘best judgement and conscience’. 
For the Catholic is only a layman-, the Protestant is himself a clergyman 
[i Geistlicher ]. Just this is the progress of the Reformation period 
beyond the Middle Ages, and at the same time its curse - that the 
spiritual [das Geistliche ] became complete. 

What else was the Jesuit moral philosophy than a continuation of 
the sale of indulgences? Only that the man who was relieved of his 
burden of sin now gained also an insight into the remission of sins, 
and convinced himself how really his sin was taken from him, since 
in this or that particular case (casuists) it was so clearly no sin at all 
that he committed. The sale of indulgences had made all sins and 
transgressions permissible, and silenced every movement of con- 
science. All sensuality might hold sway, if it was only purchased from 
the church. This favouring of sensuality was continued by the Jesuits, 
while the strictly moral, dark, fanatical, repentant, contrite, praying 
Protestants (as the true completers of Christianity, to be sure) 
acknowledged only the intellectual and spiritual man. Catholicism, 
especially the Jesuits, gave aid to egoism in this way, found involun- 
tary and unconscious adherents within Protestantism itself, and saved 
us from the subversion and extinction of sensuality. Nevertheless the 
Protestant spirit spreads its dominion further and further; and, as, 
beside it the ‘divine’, the Jesuit spirit represents only the ‘diabolic’ 
which is inseparable from everything divine, the latter can never 
assert itself alone, but must look on and see how in France, for 
example, the philistinism of Protestantism 1 16 wins at last, and mind 
is on top. 

Protestantism is usually complimented on having brought the mun- 
dane into repute again, such as marriage, the state, etc. But the 
mundane itself as mundane, the secular, is even more indifferent to 


Men of the old time and the new 

it than to Catholicism, which lets the profane world stand, yes, and 
relishes its pleasures, while the rational, consistent Protestant sets 
about annihilating the mundane altogether, and that simply by hal- 
lowing it. So marriage has been deprived of its naturalness by becom- 
ing sacred, not in the sense of the Catholic sacrament, where it only 
receives its consecration from the church and so is unholy at bottom, 
but in the sense of being something sacred in itself to begin with, 
a sacred relation. Just so the state, also. Formerly the Pope gave 
consecration and his blessing to it and its princes; now the state is 
intrinsically sacred, majesty is sacred without needing the priest’s 
blessing. The order of nature, or natural law, was altogether hallowed 
as ‘God’s ordinance’. Hence it is said in the Augsburg Confession , 117 
Article 1 1: ‘So now we reasonably abide by the saying, as the juris- 
consults have wisely and rightly said: that man and woman should 
be with each other is a natural law. Now, if it is a natural law , then 
it is God's ordinance , therefore implanted in nature, and therefore a 
divine law also’. And is it anything more than Protestantism brought 
up to date, when Feuerbach pronounces moral relations sacred, not 
as God’s ordinance indeed, but, instead, for the sake of the spirit that 
dwells in them? 

But marriage - as a free alliance of love, of course - is sacred of 
itself by the nature of the union that is formed here. That mar- 
riage alone is a religious one that is a true one, that corresponds 
to the essence of marriage, love. And so it is with all moral 
relations. They are ethical , are cultivated with a moral mind, only 
where they rank as religious of themselves. True friendship is only 
where the limits of friendship are preserved with religious con- 
scientiousness, with the same conscientiousness with which the 
believer guards the dignity of his God. Friendship is and must 
be sacred for you, and property, and marriage, and the good of 
every man, but sacred in and of itself. a 

That is a very essential consideration. In Catholicism the mundane 
can indeed be consecrated or hallowed, but it is not sacred without this 
priestly blessing; in Protestantism, on the contrary, mundane relations 
are sacred of themselves , sacred by their mere existence. The Jesuit 
maxim, ‘the end hallows the means’, corresponds precisely to the 
consecration by which sanctity is bestowed. No means are holy or 

a Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity , p. 403. 


The Ego and Its Own 

unholy in themselves, but their relation to the church, their use for 
the church, hallows the means. Regicide was named as such; if it 
was committed for the church’s behoof, it could be certain of being 
hallowed by the church, even if the hallowing was not openly pro- 
nounced. To the Protestant, majesty ranks as sacred; to the Catholic 
only that majesty which is consecrated by the pontiff can rank as 
such; and it does rank as such to him only because the Pope, even 
though it be without a special act, confers this sacredness on it once 
for all. If he retracted his consecration, the king would be left only 
a ‘man of the world or layman’, an ‘unconsecrated’ man, to the 

If the Protestant seeks to discover a sacredness in the sensual itself, 
that he may then be linked only to what is holy, the Catholic strives 
rather to banish the sensual from himself into a separate domain, 
where it, like the rest of nature, keeps its value for itself. The Catholic 
church eliminated mundane marriage from its consecrated order, and 
withdrew those who were its own from the mundane family; the 
Protestant church declared marriage and family ties to be holy, and 
therefore not unsuitable for its clergymen. 

A Jesuit may, as a good Catholic, hallow everything. He needs 
only, for example, to say to himself: ‘I as a priest am necessary to 
the church, but serve it more zealously when I appease my desires 
properly; consequently I will seduce this girl, have my enemy there 
poisoned, etc.; my end is holy because it is a priest’s, consequently 
it hallows the means.’ For in the end it is still done for the benefit 
of the church. Why should the Catholic priest shrink from handing 
Emperor Heinrich VII 118 the poisoned wafer for the - church’s 

The genuinely churchly Protestants inveighed against every ‘inno- 
cent pleasure’, because only the sacred, the spiritual, could be inno- 
cent. What they could not point out the holy spirit in, the Protestants 
had to reject - dancing, the theatre, ostentation in the church, and 
the like. 

Compared with this puritanical Calvinism , 119 Lutheranism is again 
more on the religious, spiritual, track, is more radical. For the former 
excludes at once a great number of things as sensual and worldly, 
and purifies the church; Lutheranism, on the contrary, tries to bring 
spirit into all things as far as possible, to recognize the holy spirit as 
an essence in everything, and so to hallow everything worldly. (‘No 
one can forbid a kiss in honour.’ The spirit of honour hallows it.) 


Men of the old time and the new 

Hence it was that the Lutheran Hegel (he declares himself such 
in some passage or other: he ‘wants to remain a Lutheran’) 120 was 
completely successful in carrying the idea through everything. In 
everything there is reason, holy spirit, or ‘the actual is rational’. For 
the actual is in fact everything; as in each thing, for instance, each 
lie, the truth can be detected: there is no absolute lie, no absolute 
evil, and the like. 

Great ‘works of mind’ were created almost solely by Protestants, 
as they alone were the true disciples and consummators of mind. 

How little man is able to control! He must let the sun run its course, 
the sea roll its waves, the mountains rise to heaven. Thus he stands 
powerless before the uncontrollable. Can he keep off the impression 
that he is helpless against this gigantic world? It is a fixed law to which 
he must submit, it determines his fate. Now, what did pre-Christian 
humanity work toward? Toward getting rid of the irruptions of the 
destinies, not letting oneself be vexed by them. The Stoics attained 
this in apathy, declaring the attacks of nature indifferent , and not 
letting themselves be affected by them. Horace utters the famous Nil 
admirari , 121 by which he likewise announces the indifference of the 
other, the world; it is not to influence us, not to rouse our astonish- 
ment. And that impavidum ferient ruinae 122 expresses the very same 
imperturbability as Psalm 46:3: ‘We do not fear, though the earth 
should perish’. In all this there is room made for the Christian prop- 
osition that the world is empty, for the Christian contempt of the world. 

The imperturbable spirit of ‘the wise man’, with which the old world 
worked to prepare its end, now underwent an inner perturbation 
against which no ataraxia, no Stoic courage, was able to protect it. 
The spirit, secured against all influence of the world, insensible to 
its shocks and exalted above its attacks, admiring nothing, not to be 
disconcerted by any downfall of the world - foamed over irrepressibly 
again, because gases (spirits) were evolved in its own interior, and, 
after the mechanical shock that comes from without had become inef- 
fective, chemical tensions, that agitate within, began their wonderful 

In fact, ancient history ends with this, that I have struggled until 
I won my ownership of the world. ‘All things have been delivered to 
me by my Father.’" It has ceased to be overpowering, unapproachable, 

a Matthew 1 1:27. 


The Ego and Its Own 

sacred, divine, for me; it is undeified , and now I treat it so entirely as 
I please that, if I cared, I could exert on it all miracle-working power, 
that is, power of mind - remove mountains, command mulberry trees 
to tear themselves up and transplant themselves into the sea/ and do 
everything possible, thinkable : ‘All things are possible to him who 
believes.’* I am the lord [Herr] of the world, mine is the ‘glory 
[ Herrlichkeit ]’. The world has become prosaic, for the divine has van- 
ished from it: it is my property, which I dispose of as I (namely, the 
mind) choose. 

When I had exalted myself to be the owner of the world , egoism 
had won its first complete victory, had vanquished the world, had 
become worldless , and put the acquisitions of a long age under 
lock and key. 

The first property, the first ‘glory’, has been acquired! 

But the lord of the world is notyet lord of his thoughts, his feelings, 
his will: he is not lord and owner of the spirit, for the spirit is still 
sacred, the ‘Holy Spirit’, and the ‘worldless’ Christian is not able to 
become ‘godless’. If the ancient struggle was a struggle against the 
world, the medieval (Christian) struggle is a struggle against self. ] the 
mind; the former against the outer world, the latter against the inner 
world. The medieval man is the man ‘whose gaze is turned inward’, 
the thinking, meditative man. 

All wisdom of the ancients is the science of the world , all wisdom of 
the moderns is the science of God. 

The heathen (Jews included) got through with the world, but now 
the thing was to get through with self, the spirit, too; to become 
spiritless or godless. 

For almost two thousand years we have been working at subjecting 
the Holy Spirit to ourselves, and little by little we have torn off and 
trodden under foot many bits of sacredness; but the gigantic 
opponent is constantly rising anew under a changed form and name. 
The spirit has not yet lost its divinity, its holiness, its sacredness. To 
be sure, it has long ceased to flutter over our heads as a dove; to be 
sure, it no longer gladdens its saints alone, but lets itself be caught 
by the laity too; but as spirit of humanity, as spirit of man, it remains 
still an alien spirit to me or you, still far from becoming our unrestric- 
ted property, which we dispose of at our pleasure. However, one thing 

4 Luke 17:6. 

* Mark 9:23. 


Men of the old time and the new 

certainly happened, and visibly guided the progress of post-Christian 
history: this one thing was the endeavour to make the Holy Spirit 
more human , and bring it nearer to men, or men to it. Through this 
it came about that at last it could be conceived as the ‘spirit of 
humanity’, and, under different expressions like ‘idea of humanity, 
mankind, humaneness, general philanthropy’, appeared more attract- 
ive, more familiar, and more accessible. 

Would not one think that now everybody could possess the Holy 
Spirit, take up into himself the idea of humanity, bring mankind to 
form and existence in himself? 

No, the spirit is not stripped of its holiness and robbed of its 
unapproachableness, is not accessible to us, not our property; for the 
spirit of humanity is not my spirit. My ideal it may be, and as a thought 
I call it mine; the thought of humanity is my property, and I prove 
this sufficiently by propounding it quite according to my views, and 
shaping it today so, tomorrow otherwise; we represent it to ourselves 
in the most manifold ways. But it is at the same time an entail, which 
I cannot alienate nor get rid of. 

Among many transformations, the Holy Spirit became in time the 
‘ absolute idea\ which again in manifold refractions split into the differ- 
ent ideas of philanthropy, reasonableness, civic virtue, and so on. 

But can I call the idea my property if it is the idea of humanity, 
and can I consider the spirit as vanquished if I am to serve it, ‘sacrifice 
myself’ to it? Antiquity, at its close, had gained its ownership of the 
world only when it had broken the world’s overpoweringness and 
‘divinity’, recognized the world’s powerlessness and ‘vanity’. 

The case with regard to the spirit corresponds. When I have 
degraded it to a spook and its control over me to a cranky notion , then 
it is to be looked upon as having lost its sacredness, its holiness, its 
divinity, and then I use it, as one uses nature at pleasure without 

The ‘nature of the case’, the ‘concept of the relationship’, is to 
guide me in dealing with the case or in contracting the relation. As 
if a concept of the case existed on its own account, and was not rather 
the concept that one forms of the case! As if a relation which we 
enter into was not, by the uniqueness of those who enter into it, itself 
unique! As if it depended on how others stamp it! But, as people 
separated the ‘essence of man’ from the real man, and judged the 
latter by the former, so they also separate his action from him, and 


The Ego and Its Own 

appraise it by ‘human value’. Concepts are to decide everywhere, con- 
cepts to regulate life, concepts to rule. This is the religious world, to 
which Hegel gave a systematic expression, bringing method into the 
nonsense and completing the conceptual precepts into a rounded, 
firmly-based dogmatic. Everything is sung according to concepts, and 
the real man, I, am compelled to live according to these conceptual 
laws. Can there be a more grievous dominion of law, and did not 
Christianity conf ess at the very beginning that it meant only to draw 
Judaism’s dominion of law tighter? (‘Not a letter of the law shall be 
lost!’ 123 ) 

Liberalism simply brought other concepts on the carpet; human 
instead of divine, political instead of ecclesiastical, ‘scientific’ instead 
of doctrinal, or, more generally, real concepts and eternal laws instead 
of ‘crude dogmas’ and precepts. 

Now nothing but mind rules in the world. An innumerable multi- 
tude of concepts buzz about in people’s heads, and what are those 
doing who endeavour to get further? They are negating these con- 
cepts to put new ones in their place! They are saying: ‘You form a 
false concept of right, of the state, of man, of liberty, of truth, of 
marriage; the concept of right, etc., is rather that one which we now 
set up.’ Thus the confusion of concepts moves forward. 

The history of the world has dealt cruelly with us, and the spirit 
has obtained an almighty power. You must have regard for my miser- 
able shoes, which could protect your naked foot, my salt, by which 
your potatoes would become palatable, and my state-carriage, whose 
possession would relieve you of all need at once; you must not reach 
out after them. Man is to recognize the independence of all these and 
innumerable other things: they are to rank in his mind as something 
that cannot be seized or approached, are to be kept away from him. 
He must have regard for it, respect it; woe to him if he stretches out 
his fingers desirously; we call that ‘being light-fingered’! 

How beggarly little is left us, yes, how really nothing! Everything 
has been removed, we must not venture on anything unless it is given 
us; we continue to live only by the grace of the giver. You must not 
pick up a pin, unless indeed you have got leave to do so. And got it 
from whom? From respect ! Only when this lets you have it as property, 
only when you can respect it as property, only then may you take it. 
And again, you are not to conceive a thought, speak a syllable, commit 
an action, that should have their warrant in you alone, instead of 


Men of the old time and the new 

receiving it from morality or reason or humanity. Happy unconstraint 
of the desirous man, how mercilessly people have tried to slay you 
on the altar of constraint 

But around the altar rise the arches of a church, and its walls keep 
moving further and further out. What they enclose is sacred. You can 
no longer get to it, no longer touch it. Shrieking with the hunger that 
devours you, you wander round about these walls in search of the 
little that is profane, and the circles of your course keep growing 
more and more extended. Soon that church will embrace the whole 
world, and you be driven out to the extreme edge; another step, and 
the world of the sacred has conquered: you sink into the abyss. There- 
fore take courage while it is yet time, wander about no longer in the 
profane where now it is dry feeding, dare the leap, and rush in 
through the gates into the sanctuary itself. If you devour the sacred , 
you have made it your own\ Digest the sacramental wafer, and you 
are rid of it! 

3 The free 124 

The ancients and the moderns having been presented above in two 
divisions, it may seem as if the free were here to be described in a 
third division as independent and distinct. This is not so. The free 
are only the more modern and most modern among the ‘moderns’, 
and are put in a separate division merely because they belong to the 
present, and what is present, above all, claims our attention here. I 
give ‘the free’ only as a translation of ‘the liberals’, but must with 
regard to the concept of freedom (as in general with regard to so 
many other things whose anticipatory introduction cannot be avoided) 
refer to what comes later. 

§i Political liberalism 

After the chalice of so-called absolute monarchy had been drained 
down to the dregs, in the eighteenth century people became aware 
that their drink did not taste human - too clearly aware not to begin 
to crave a different cup. Since our fathers were ‘human beings’ after 
all, they at last desired also to be regarded as such. 

Whoever sees in us something else than human beings, in him we 
likewise will not see a human being, but an inhuman being, and will 


The Ego and Its Own 

meet him as an un-human being; on the other hand, whoever recog- 
nizes us as human beings and protects us against the danger of being 
treated inhumanly, him we will honour as our true protector and 

Let us then hold together and protect the man in each other; 
then we find the necessary protection in our holding together , and in 
ourselves, those who hold together , a community of those who know 
their human dignity and hold together as ‘human beings’. Our hold- 
ing together is the state ; we who hold together are the nation. 

In our being together as nation or state we are only human beings. 
How we deport ourselves in other respects as individuals, and what 
self-seeking impulses we may there succumb to, belongs solely to our 
private life; our public or state life is a purely human one. Everything 
un-human or ‘egoistic’ that clings to us is degraded to a ‘private 
matter’ and we distinguish the state definitely from ‘civil society [biirg- 
erlichen Gesellschaft]\ which is the sphere of ‘egoism’s’ activity . 

The true man is the nation, but the individual is always an egoist. 
Therefore strip off your individuality or isolation wherein dwells dis- 
cord and egoistic inequality, and consecrate yourselves wholly to the 
true man, the nation, or the state. Then you will rank as men, and 
have all that is man’s; the state, the true man, will entitle you to what 
belongs to it, and give you the ‘rights of man’; man gives you his 

So runs the speech of the commonalty . 12:1 

The commonalty is nothing else than the thought that the state is 
all in all, the true man, and that the individual’s human value consists 
in being a citizen of the state. In being a good citizen he seeks his 
highest honour; beyond that he knows nothing higher than at most 
the antiquated - ‘being a good Christian’. 

The commonalty developed itself in the struggle against the privi- 
leged classes, by whom it was cavalierly treated as ‘third estate’ and 
confounded with the canaille. In other words, up to this time the state 
had recognized caste . 126 The son of a nobleman was selected for 
posts to which the most distinguished commoners aspired in vain. 
The civic feeling revolted against this. No more distinction, no giving 
preference to persons, no difference of classes! Let all be alike! No 
separate interest is to be pursued longer, but the general interest of all. 
The state is to be a community of free and equal men, and every 
one is to devote himself to the ‘welfare of the whole’, to be dissolved 


Men of the old time and the new 

in the state , to make the state his end and ideal. State! State! So ran 
the general cry, and thenceforth people sought for the ‘right form of 
state’, the best constitution, and so the state in its best conception. 
The thought of the state passed into all hearts and awakened enthusi- 
asm; to serve it, this mundane god, became the new divine service 
and worship. The properly political epoch had dawned. To serve the 
state or the nation became the highest ideal, the state’s interest the 
highest interest, state service (for which one does not by any means 
need to be an official) the highest honour. 

So then the separate interests and personalities had been scared 
away, and sacrifice for the state had become the shibboleth. One 
must give up himself and live only for the state. One must act ‘disin- 
terestedly’, not want to benefit himself but the state. Hereby the latter 
has become the true person, before whom the individual personality 
vanishes; not I live, but it lives in me. Therefore, in comparison with 
the former self-seeking, this was unselfishness and impersonality itself. 
Before this god - state - all egoism vanished, and before it all were 
equal; they were without any other distinction - men, nothing but 

The revolution took fire from the inflammable material of property. 
The government needed money. Now it must prove the proposition 
that it is absolute , and so master of all property, sole proprietor; it 
must take to itself its money, which was only in the possession of the 
subjects, not their property. Instead of this, it calls states- general, to 
have this money granted to it. The shrinking from strictly logical 
action destroyed the illusion of an absolute government; he who must 
have something ‘granted’ to him cannot be regarded as absolute. The 
subjects recognized that they were real proprietors , and that it was their 
money that was demanded. Those who had hitherto been subjects 
attained the consciousness that they were proprietors. Bailly 127 depicts 
this in a few words: 

If you cannot dispose of my property without my assent, how 
much less can you of my person, of all that concerns my mental 
and social position? All this is my property, like the piece of land 
that I till; and I have a right, an interest, to make the laws myself. 

Bailly’s words sound, certainly, as if every one was a proprietor now. 
However, instead of the government, instead of the prince, the - 
nation now became proprietor and master. From this time on the 
ideal is spoken of as - ‘popular liberty’ - ‘a free people’, etc. 


The Ego and Its Own 

As early as 8 July 1789, the declaration of the Bishop of Autun 
and Barriere 128 took away all semblance of the importance of each and 
every individual in legislation; it showed the complete powerlessness of 
the constituents; the majority of the representatives has become master. 
When on 9 July the plan for division of the work on the constitution 
is proposed, Mirabeau 129 remarks that ‘the government has only 
power, no rights; only in the people is the source of all right [Rechts] 
to be found’. On 16 July this same Mirabeau exclaims: ‘Is not the 
people the source of all powerV UQ The source, therefore, of all right, 
and the source of all - power! By the way, here the substance of 
‘right’ becomes visible; it is - power. ‘He who has power has right.’ 

The commonalty is the heir of the privileged classes. In fact, the 
rights of the barons, which were taken from them as ‘usurpations’, 
only passed over to the commonalty. For the commonalty was now 
called the ‘nation’. ‘Into the hands of the nation’ all prerogatives [Vor- 
rechte\ were given back. Thereby they ceased to be ‘prerogatives’: 
they became ‘rights [Rechte]\ From this time on the nation demands 
tithes, compulsory services; it has inherited the lord’s court, the rights 
of vert and venison, the - serfs. The night of 4 August 131 was the 
death-night of privileges or ‘prerogatives’ (cities, communes, boards 
of magistrates, were also privileged, furnished with prerogatives and 
seigniorial rights), and ended with the new morning of ‘right’, the 
‘rights of the state’, the ‘rights of the nation’. 

The monarch in the person of the ‘royal master’ had been a paltry 
monarch compared with this new monarch, the ‘sovereign nation’. 
This monarchy was a thousand times severer, stricter, and more con- 
sistent. Against the new monarch there was no longer any right, any 
privilege at all; how limited the ‘absolute king’ of the ancien regime 
looks in comparison! The revolution effected the transformation of 
limited monarchy into absolute monarchy. From this time on every right 
that is not conferred by this monarch is an ‘assumption’; but ever)' 
prerogative that he bestows, a ‘right’. The times demanded absolute 
royalty , absolute monarchy; therefore down fell that so-called absolute 
royalty which had so little understood how to become absolute that 
it remained limited by a thousand little lords. 

What was longed for and striven for through thousands of years - 
namely, to find that absolute lord beside whom no other lords and 
lordlings any longer exist to clip his power - the bourgeoisie has 
brought to pass. It has revealed the Lord who alone confers ‘rightful 


Men of the old time and the new 

titles’, and without whose warrant nothing is justified. ‘So now we 
know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other 
God save the one.’ fl 

Against right one can no longer, as against a right, come forward 
with the assertion that it is ‘a wrong’. One can say now only that it 
is a piece of nonsense, an illusion. If one called it wrong, one would 
have to set up another right in opposition to it, and measure it by this. 
If, on the contrary, one rejects right as such, right in and of itself, 
altogether, then one also rejects the concept of wrong, and dissolves 
the whole concept of right (to which the concept of wrong belongs). 

What is the meaning of the doctrine that we all enjoy ‘equality of 
political rights’? Only this, that the state has no regard for my person, 
that to it I, like every other, am only a man, without having another 
significance that commands its deference. I do not command its def- 
erence as an aristocrat, a nobleman’s son, or even as heir of an official 
whose office belongs to me by inheritance (as in the Middle Ages 
countships, etc., and later under absolute royalty, where hereditary 
offices occur). Now the state has an innumerable multitude of rights 
to give away; the right to lead a battalion, a company, etc.; the right 
to lecture at a university, and so forth; it has them to give away 
because they are its own, namely state rights or ‘political’ rights. 
Moreover, it makes no difference to it to whom it gives them, if the 
receiver only fulfils the duties that spring from the delegated rights. 
To it we are all of us all right, and - equal - one worth no more and no 
less than another. It is indifferent to me who receives the command of 
the army, says the sovereign state, provided the grantee understands 
the matter properly. ‘Equality of political rights’ has, consequently, 
the meaning that every one may acquire every right that the state has 
to give away, if only he fulfils the conditions annexed thereto - con- 
ditions which are to be sought only in the nature of the particular 
right, not in a predilection for the person ( persona grata)', the nature 
of the right to become an officer brings with it the necessity that one 
possess sound limbs and a suitable measure of knowledge, but it does 
not have noble birth as a condition; if, on the other hand, even 
the most deserving commoner could not reach that station, then an 
inequality of political rights would exist. Among the states of today 
one has carried out that maxim of equality more, another less. 

“ i Corinthians 8:4. 


The Ego end Its Own 

The monarchy of estates (so I will call absolute royalty, the time 
of the kings before the revolution) kept the individual in dependence 
on a lot of little monarchies. These were fellowships [Genossen- 
schaften\ (societies [ Gesellschafien ]) like the guilds, the nobility, the 
priesthood, the burgher class, cities, communes. Everywhere the indi- 
vidual must regard himself first as a member of this little society, and 
yield unconditional obedience to its spirit, the esprit de corps , as his 
monarch. More than the individual nobleman himself must his family, 
the honour of his race, be to him. Only by means of his corporation , 
his estate, did the individual have relation to the greater corporation, 
the state - as in Catholicism the individual deals with God only 
through the priest. To this the third estate now, showing courage to 
negate itself as an estate , made an end. It decided no longer to be and 
be called an estate beside other estates, but to glorify and generalize 
itself into the l nation\ Hereby it creates a much more complete and 
absolute monarchy, and the entire previously ruling principle of estates 
[. Stande] , the principle of little monarchies inside the great, went 
down. Therefore it cannot be said that the revolution was a revolution 
against the first two privileged estates. It was against the little mon- 
archies of estates in general. But, if the estates and their despotism 
were broken (the king too, we know, was only a king of estates, not 
a citizen-king), the individuals freed from the inequality of estate 
were left. Were they now really to be without estate and ‘out of gear’, 
no longer bound by any estate (status), without a general bond of 
union? No, for the third estate had declared itself the nation only in 
order not to remain an estate beside other estates, but to become the 
sole estate. This sole estate is the nation, the ‘ state (status)’. What had 
the individual now become? A political Protestant, for he had come 
into immediate connection with his God, the state. He was no longer, 
as an aristocrat, in the monarchy of the nobility; as a mechanic, in 
the monarchy of the guild; but he, like all, recognized and acknowl- 
edged only - one lord , the state, as whose servants they all received 
the equal title of honour, ‘citizen’. 

The bourgeoisie is the aristocracy of desert; its motto, ‘let desert 
wear its crowns’. It fought against the ‘lazy’ aristocracy, for according 
to it (the industrious aristocracy acquired by industry and desert) it 
is not the ‘born’ who is free, nor yet I who am free either, but the 
‘deserving’ man, the honest servant (of his king; of the state; of the 


Men of the old time and the new 

people in constitutional states). Through service one acquires free- 
dom, that is, acquires ‘deserts’, even if one served - Mammon. One 
must deserve well of the state, that is of the principle of the state, of 
its moral spirit. He who serves this spirit of the state is a good citizen, 
let him live to whatever honest branch of industry he will. In its 
eyes innovators practice a ‘breadless art’. Only the ‘shopkeeper’ is 
‘practical’, and the spirit that chases after public offices is as much 
the shopkeeping spirit as is that which tries in trade to feather its 
nest or otherwise to become useful to itself and anybody else. 

But, if the deserving count as the free (for what does the comfort- 
able commoner, the faithful office-holder, lack of that freedom that 
his heart desires?), then the ‘servants’ are the - free. The obedient 
servant is the free man! What glaring nonsense! Yet this is the sense 
of the bourgeoisie , and its poet, Goethe, as well as its philosopher, 
Hegel, succeeded in glorifying the dependence of the subject on the 
object, obedience to the objective world. He who only serves the 
cause, ‘devotes himself entirely to it’, has the true freedom. And 
among thinkers the cause was - reason , that which, like state and 
church, gives - general laws, and puts the individual man in irons by 
the thought of humanity. It determines what is ‘true’, according to 
which one must then act. No more ‘rational’ people than the honest 
servants, who primarily are called good citizens as servants of the 

Whether filthy rich or as poor as a church-mouse - the state of 
the commonalty leaves that to your choice; but only have a ‘good 
disposition’. This it demands of you, and counts it its most urgent 
task to establish this in all. Therefore it will keep you from ‘evil 
promptings’, holding the ‘ill-disposed’ in check and silencing their 
inflammatory discourses under censors’ cancelling-marks or press- 
penalties and behind dungeon walls, and will, on the other hand, 
appoint people of ‘good disposition’ as censors, and in everyway have 
a moral influence exerted on you by ‘well-disposed and well-meaning’ 
people. If it has made you deaf to evil promptings, then it opens your 
ears again all the more diligently to good promptings. 

With the time of the bourgeoisie begins that of liberalism. People 
want to see what is ‘rational’, ‘suited to the times’, etc., established 
everywhere. The following definition of liberalism, which is supposed 
to be pronounced in its honour, characterizes it completely: ‘Liberal- 


The Ego and Its Own 

ism is nothing else than the knowledge of reason, applied to our 
existing relations.’" Its aim is a ‘rational order’, a ‘moral behaviour’, 
a ‘limited freedom’, not anarchy, lawlessness, selfhood. But, if reason 
rules, then the person succumbs. Art has for a long time not only 
acknowledged the ugly, but considered the ugly as necessary to its 
existence, and takes it up into itself; it needs the villain. In the 
religious domain, too, the extremest liberals go so far that they want 
to see the most religious man regarded as a citizen, that is, the 
religious villain; they want to see no more of trials for heresy. But 
against the ‘rational law’ no one is to rebel, otherwise he is threatened 
with the severest penalty. What is wanted is not free movement and 
realization of the person or of me, but of reason - a dominion of 
reason, a dominion. The liberals are zealots , not exactly for the faith, 
for God, but certainly for reason , their master. They brook no lack of 
breeding, and therefore no self-development and self-determination; 
they^>% the guardian as effectively as the most absolute rulers. 

‘Political liberty’, what are we to understand by that? Perhaps the 
individual’s independence of the state and its laws? No; on the con- 
trary, the individual’s subjection in the state and to the state’s laws. 
But why ‘liberty’? Because one is no longer separated from the state 
by intermediaries, but stands in direct and immediate relation to it; 
because one is a - citizen, not the subject of another, not even of the 
king as a person, but only in his quality as ‘supreme head of the 
state’. Political liberty, this fundamental doctrine of liberalism, is 
nothing but a second phase of - Protestantism, and runs quite parallel 
with ‘religious liberty’/ Or would it perhaps be right to understand 
by the latter an independence of religion? Anything but that. 
Independence of intermediaries is all that it is intended to express, 
independence of mediating priests, the abolition of the ‘laity’, and 
so, direct and immediate relation to religion or to God. Only on the 
supposition that one has religion can he enjoy freedom of religion; 
freedom of religion does not mean being without religion, but 
inwardness of faith, unmediated intercourse with God. To him who 

' Carl Witt (anonymously), ‘PreuBen seit der Einsetzung Arndts bis zur Absetzung 
Bauers’, in Georg Herwegh (ed.), Einundzwanzig Bogen ans der Schweiz 132 (Zurich and 
Winterthur, 1843), pp. 12-13. 

h Louis Blanc 133 says that at the time of the restoration: ‘Le protestantisme devint le 
fond des idees et des moeurs, 133 Histoire des dix ans. 1830-1840 , volume 1 (Paris, 
1841), p. 138. 


Men of the old time and the new 

is ‘religiously free’ religion is an affair of the heart, it is to him his 
own affair, it is to him a ‘sacredly serious matter’. So, too, to the 
‘politically free’ man the state is a sacredly serious matter; it is his 
heart’s affair, his chief affair, his own affair. 

Political liberty means that the polis, the state, is free; freedom of 
religion that religion is free, as freedom of conscience signifies that 
conscience is free; not, therefore, that I am free from the state, from 
religion, from conscience, or that I am rid of them. It does not mean 
my liberty, but the liberty of a power that rules and subjugates me; 
it means that one of my despots , like state, religion, conscience, is 
free. State, religion, conscience, these despots, make me a slave, and 
their liberty is my slavery. That in this they necessarily follow the 
principle, ‘the end hallows the means’, is self-evident. If the welfare 
of the state is the end, war is a hallowed means; if justice is the state’s 
end, homicide is a hallowed means, and is called by its sacred name, 
‘execution’; the sacred state hallows everything that is serviceable to it. 

‘Individual liberty’, over which civic liberalism keeps jealous watch, 
does not by any means signify a completely free self-determination, 
by which actions become altogether mine, but only independence of 
persons. Individually free is he who is responsible to no man. Taken 
in this sense - and we are not allowed to understand it otherwise - 
not only the ruler is individually free, irresponsible toward men (‘before 
God’, we know, he acknowledges himself responsible), but all who 
are ‘responsible only to the law’. This kind of liberty was won through 
the revolutionary movement of the century - namely, independence 
of arbitrary will, or tel est notre plaisir , 135 Hence the constitutional 
prince must himself be stripped of all personality, deprived of all 
individual decision, that he may not as a person, as an individual man, 
violate the ‘individual liberty’ of others. The personal will of the ruler 
has disappeared in the constitutional prince; it is with a right feeling, 
therefore, that absolute princes resist this. Nevertheless these very 
ones profess to be in the best sense ‘Christian princes’. For this, 
however, they must become a purely spiritual power, as the Christian 
is subject only to spirit (‘God is spirit’). The purely spiritual power 
is consistently represented only by the constitutional prince, he who, 
without any personal significance, stands there spiritualized to the 
degree that he can rank as a sheer, uncanny ‘spirit’, as an idea. The 
constitutional king is the truly Christian king, the genuine, consistent 
carrying-out of the Christian principle. In the constitutional mon- 


The Ego and Its Own 

archy individual dominion - a real ruler that wills - has found its 
end; here, therefore, individual liberty prevails, independence of every 
individual dictator, of everyone who could dictate to me with a tel est 
notre plaisir. It is the completed Christian state-life, a spiritualized 

The behaviour of the commonalty is liberal through and through. 
Every personal invasion of another’s sphere revolts the civic sense; if 
the citizen sees that one is dependent on the humour, the pleasure, 
the will of a man as individual (not as authorized by a ‘higher power’), 
at once he brings his liberalism to the front and shrieks about ‘arbitra- 
riness’. In short, the citizen asserts his freedom from what is called 
orders [Befehl] (ordonnance): ‘No one has any business to give me - 
orders!’ Orders carries the idea that what I am to do is another man’s 
will, while law [ Gesetz ] does not express a personal authority of 
another. The liberty of the commonalty is liberty or independence 
from the will of another person, so-called personal or individual lib- 
erty; for being personally free means being only so free that no other 
person can dispose of mine, or that what I may or may not do does 
not depend on the personal decree of another. The liberty of the 
press, for instance, is such a liberty of liberalism, liberalism fighting 
only against the coercion of the censorship as that of personal wilful- 
ness, but otherwise showing itself extremely inclined and willing to 
tyrannize over the press by ‘press laws’; the civic liberals want liberty 
of writing for themselves ; for, as they are law-abiding , their writings 
will not bring them under the law. Only liberal matter, only lawful 
matter, is to be allowed to be printed; otherwise the ‘press laws’ 
threaten ‘press-penalties’. If one sees personal liberty assured, one 
does not notice at all how, if a new issue happens to arise, the most 
glaring unfreedom becomes dominant. For one is rid of orders indeed, 
and ‘no one has any business to give us orders’, but one has become 
so much the more submissive to the - law. One is enthralled now in 
due legal form. 

In the citizen-state [ Biirger-Staate ] there are only ‘free people’, who 
are compelled to thousands of things (to deference, to a confession of 
faith, and the like). But what does that amount to? Why, it is only 
the - state, the law, not any man, that compels them! 

What does the commonalty mean by inveighing against every per- 
sonal order, every order not founded on the ‘cause [Sache]\ on 
‘reason’? It is simply fighting in the interest of the ‘cause’ against the 


Men of the old time and the new 

dominion of ‘persons’! But the mind’s cause is the rational, good, 
lawful, etc.; that is the ‘good cause’. The commonalty wants an imper- 
sonal ruler. 

Furthermore, if the principle is this, that only the cause is to rule 
man - namely, the cause of morality, the cause of legality, and so on, 
then no personal balking of one by the other may be authorized either 
(as formerly the commoner was balked of the aristocratic offices, the 
aristocrat of common mechanical trades, etc.); free competition must 
exist. Only through the thing [Sache] can one balk another (as the 
rich man balking the impecunious man by money, a thing), not as a 
person. Henceforth only one lordship, the lordship of the state , is 
admitted; personally no one is any longer lord of another. Even at 
birth the children belong to the state, and to the parents only in the 
name of the state, which does not allow infanticide, demands their 
baptism and so on. 

But all the state’s children, furthermore, are of quite equal account 
in its eyes (‘civic or political equality’), and they may see to it them- 
selves how they get along with each other; they may compete. 

Free competition means nothing else than that every one can pre- 
sent himself, assert himself, fight, against another. Of course the 
feudal party set itself against this, as its existence depended on an 
absence of competition. The contests in the time of the Restoration 
in France had no other substance than this, that the bourgeoisie was 
struggling for free competition, and the feudalists were seeking to 
bring back the guild system. 

Now, free competition has won, and against the guild system it 
had to win. (See below for the further discussion.) 

If the revolution ended in a reaction, this only showed what the 
revolution really was. For every effort arrives at reaction when it comes 
to discreet reflection , and storms forward in the original action only so 
long as it is an intoxication , an ‘indiscretion’. ‘Discretion’ will always 
be the cue of the reaction, because discretion sets limits, and liberates 
what was really wanted, that is, the principle, from the initial 
‘unbridledness’ and ‘unrestrainedness’. Wild young men, bumptious 
students, who set aside all considerations, are really philistines, since 
with them, as with the latter, considerations form the substance of 
their conduct; only that as swaggerers they are mutinous against con- 
siderations and in negative relations to them, but as philistines, later, 
they give themselves up to considerations and have positive relations 


The Ego and Its Own 

to them. In both cases all their doing and thinking turns upon ‘con- 
siderations’, but the philistine is reactionary in relation to the student; 
he is the wild fellow come to discreet reflection, as the latter is the 
unreflecting philistine. Daily experience confirms the truth of this 
transformation, and shows how the swaggerers turn to philistines in 
turning grey. 

So, too, the so-called reaction in Germany gives proof that it was 
only the discreet continuation of the warlike jubilation of liberty. 

The revolution was not directed against the established , but against 
the establishment in question, against a particular establishment. It did 
away with this ruler, not with the ruler, on the contrary, the French 
were ruled most inexorably; it killed the old vicious rulers, but wanted 
to confer on the virtuous ones a securely established position, that 
is, it simply set virtue in the place of vice. (Vice and virtue, again, 
are on their part distinguished from each other only as a wild young 
man from a philistine.) 

To this day the revolutionary principle has gone no further than 
to assail only one or another particular establishment, to be reformatory. 
Much as may be improved , strongly as ‘discreet progress’ may be 
adhered to, always there is only a new master set in the old one’s 
place, and the overturning is a - building up. We are still at the 
distinction of the young philistine from the old one. The revolution 
began in bourgeois fashion with the uprising of the third estate, the 
middle class; in bourgeois fashion it dries away. It was not the individ- 
ual man - and he alone is man - that became free, but the citizen , 
the citoyen, the political man, who for that very reason is not man but 
a specimen of the human species, and more particularly a specimen 
of the species Citizen, a free citizen. 

In the revolution it was not the individual who acted so as to affect 
the world’s history, but a people ; the nation , the sovereign nation, 
wanted to effect everything. A fancied I, an idea, such as the nation 
is, appears acting; the individuals contribute themselves as tools of 
this idea, and act as ‘citizens’. 

The commonalty has its power, and at the same time its limits, in 
the fundamental law of the state, in a Charter , 136 in a legitimate 
[rechtlichen] or ‘just’ [gerechten] prince who himself is guided, and 
rules, according to ‘rational laws’, in short, in legality. The period of 
the bourgeoisie is ruled by the British spirit of legality. An assembly 
of provincial estates is ever recalling that its authorization goes only 


Men of the old time and the new 

so and so far, and that it is called at all only through favour and can 
be thrown out again through disfavour. It is always reminding itself 
of its - vocation. It is certainly not to be denied that my father begot 
me; but, now that I am once begotten, surely his purposes in begetting 
do not concern me a bit and, whatever he may have called me to, I 
do what I myself will. Therefore even a called assembly of estates, 
the French assembly in the beginning of the revolution, recognized 
quite rightly that it was independent of the caller. It existed , and would 
have been stupid if it did not avail itself of the right of existence, but 
fancied itself dependent as on a father. The called one no longer has 
to ask ‘what did the caller want when he created me?’ but ‘what do 
I want after I have once followed the call?’ Not the caller, not the 
constituents, not the charter according to which their meeting was 
called out, nothing will be to him a sacred, inviolable power. He is 
authorized for everything that is in his power; he will know no restric- 
tive ‘authorization’, will not want to be loyal. This, if any such thing 
could be expected from chambers at all, would give a completely 
egoistic chamber, severed from all umbilical cords and without con- 
sideration. But chambers are always devout, and therefore one cannot 
be surprised if so much half-way or undecided, that is, hypocritical, 
‘egoism’ parades in them. 

The members of the estates are to remain within the limits that 
are traced for them by the charter, by the king’s will, and the like. If 
they will not or can not do that, then they are to ‘step out’. What 
dutiful man could act otherwise, could put himself, his conviction, 
and his will as the first thing? Who could be so immoral as to want 
to assert himself even if the body corporate and everything should 
go to ruin over it? People keep carefully within the limits of their 
authorization ; of course one must remain within the limits of his power 
anyhow, because no one can do more than he can. ‘My power, or, if 
it be so, powerlessness, be my sole limit, but authorizations only 
restraining - precepts? Should I profess this all-subversive view? No, 
I am a - law-abiding citizen!’ 

The commonalty professes a morality which is most closely con- 
nected with its essence. The first demand of this morality is to the 
effect that one should carry on a solid business, an honourable trade, 
lead a moral life. Immoral, to it, is the swindler, the whore, the thief, 
robber, and murderer, the gambler, the penniless man without a 
position, the frivolous man. The suspicious citizen designates the 


The Ego and Its Own 

feeling against these ‘immoral’ people as his ‘deepest indignation’. 
All these lack settlement, the solid quality of business, a solid, seemly 
life, a fixed income, etc.; in short, they belong, because their existence 
does not rest on a secure basis , to the dangerous ‘individuals or isolated 
persons’, to the dangerous proletariat ; they are ‘individual bawlers’ 
who offer no ‘guarantee’ and have ‘nothing to lose’, and so nothing 
to risk. The forming of family ties binds a man: he who is bound 
furnishes security, can be taken hold of; not so the prostitute. The 
gambler stakes everything on the game, ruins himself and others - 
no guarantee. All who appear to the commoner suspicious, hostile, 
and dangerous might be comprised under the name ‘vagabonds’; 
every vagabondish way of living displeases him. For there are intellec- 
tual vagabonds too, to whom the hereditary dwelling-place of their 
fathers seems too cramped and oppressive for them to be willing to 
satisfy themselves with the limited space any more: instead of keeping 
within the limits of a temperate style of thinking, and taking as inviol- 
able truth what furnishes comfort and tranquillity to thousands, they 
overlap all bounds of the traditional and run wild with their impudent 
criticism and untamed mania for doubt, these extravagant vagabonds. 
They form the class of the unstable, restless, changeable, of the 
proletariat, and, if they give voice to their unsettled nature, are called 
‘unruly heads’. 

Such a broad sense has the so-called proletariat, or pauperism. 
How much one would err if one believed the commonalty to be 
desirous of doing away with poverty (pauperism) to the best of its 
ability! On the contrary, the good citizen helps himself with the 
incomparably comforting conviction that ‘the fact is that the good 
things of fortune are unequally divided and will always remain 
so - according to God’s wise decree’. The poverty which surrounds 
him in every alley does not disturb the true commoner further 
than that at most he clears his account with it by throwing alms, 
or finds work and food for an ‘honest and serviceable’ fellow. But 
so much the more does he feel his quiet enjoyment clouded by 
innovating and discontented poverty, by those poor who no longer 
behave quietly and endure, but begin to run wild and become 
restless. Lock up the vagabond, thrust the breeder of unrest into 
the darkest dungeon! He wants to ‘arouse dissatisfaction and incite 
people against existing institutions’ in the state - stone him, stone 


Men of the old time and the new 

But from these identical discontented ones comes a reasoning 
somewhat as follows: It need not make any difference to the ‘good 
citizens’ who protects them and their principles, whether an absolute 
king or a constitutional one, a republic, if only they are protected. 
And what is their principle, whose protector they always ‘love’? Not 
that of labour; not that of birth either. But that of mediocrity , of the 
golden mean: a little birth and a little labour, that is, an interest-bearing 
possession. Possession is here the fixed, the given, inherited (birth); 
interest-drawing is the exertion about it (labour); labouring capital , 
therefore. Only no immoderation, no ultra, no radicalism! Right of 
birth certainly, but only hereditary possessions; labour certainly, yet 
little or none at all of one’s own, but labour of capital and of the - 
subject labourers. 

If an age is imbued with an error, some always derive advantage 
from the error, while the rest have to suffer from it. In the Middle 
Ages the error was general among Christians that the church must 
have all power, or the supreme lordship on earth; the hierarchs 
believed in this ‘truth’ not less than the laymen, and both were spell- 
bound in the like error. But by it the hierarchs had the advantage of 
power, the laymen had to suffer subjection. However, as the saying 
goes, ‘one learns wisdom by suffering’; and so the laymen at last 
learned wisdom and no longer believed in the medieval ‘truth’. - A 
like relation exists between the commonalty and the labouring class. 
Commoner and labourer believe in the ‘truth’ of money ; they who do 
not possess it believe in it no less than those who possess it: the 
laymen, therefore, as well as the priests. 

‘Money governs the world’ is the keynote of the civic [ biirgerlichen ] 
epoch. A destitute aristocrat and a destitute labourer, as ‘starvelings’, 
amount to nothing so far as political consideration is concerned; birth 
and labour do not do it, but money brings consideration [das Geld gibt 
Geltung ]. The possessors rule, but the state trains up from the desti- 
tute its ‘servants’, to whom, in proportion as they are to rule (govern) 
in its name, it gives money (a salary). 

I receive everything from the state. Have I anything without the 
state's assent ? What I have without this it takes from me as soon as it 
discovers the lack of a ‘legal title’. Do I not, therefore, have everything 
through its grace, its assent? 

On this alone, on the legal title , the commonalty rests. The com- 
moner is what he is through the protection of the state , through the 


The Ego and Its Own 

state’s grace. He would necessarily be afraid of losing everything if 
the state’s power were broken. 

But how is it with him who has nothing to lose, how with the 
proletarian? As he has nothing to lose, he does not need the protec- 
tion of the state for his ‘nothing’. He may gain, on the contrary, if 
that protection of the state is withdrawn from the protege. 

Therefore the non-possessor will regard the state as a power pro- 
tecting the possessor, which privileges the latter, but does nothing 
for him, the non-possessor, but to - suck his blood. The state is 
a - commoners' state [ Biirgerstaat ], is the estate of the commonalty. It 
protects man not according to his labour, but according to his 
tractableness (‘loyalty’), namely, according to whether the rights 
entrusted to him by the state are enjoyed and managed in accordance 
with the will, that is, laws, of the state. 

Under the regime of the commonalty the labourers always fall into 
the hands of the possessors, of those who have at their disposal some 
bit of the state domains (and every thing possessible in state domain, 
belongs to the state, and is only a fief of the individual), especially 
money and land; of the capitalists, therefore. The labourer cannot 
realize on his labour to the extent of the value that it has for the 
consumer. ‘Labour is badly paid!’ The capitalist has the greatest 
profit from it. - Well paid, and more than well paid, are only the 
labours of those who heighten the splendour and dominion of the 
state, the labours of high state servants. The state pays well that its 
‘good citizens’, the possessors, may be able to pay badly without 
danger; it secures to itself by good payment its servants, out of whom 
it forms a protecting power, a ‘police’ (to the police belong soldiers, 
officials of all kinds, those of justice, education, etc. - in short, the 
whole ‘machinery of the state ’) 137 for the ‘good citizens’, and the 
‘good citizens’ gladly pay high tax-rates to it in order to pay so much 
lower rates to their labourers. 

But the class of labourers, because unprotected in what they essen- 
tially are (for they do not enjoy the protection of the state as labourers, 
but as its subjects they have a share in the enjoyment of the police, 
a so-called protection of the law), remains a power hostile to this 
state, this state of possessors, this ‘citizen kingship’. Its principle, 
labour, is not recognized as to its value; it is exploited [ausgebeutet], a 
spoil [Kriegsbeute] of the possessors, the enemy. 


• Men of the old time and the new 

The labourers have the most enormous power in their hands, and, 
if they once became thoroughly conscious of it and used it, nothing 
would withstand them; they would only have to stop labour, regard 
the product of labour as theirs, and enjoy it. This is the sense of the 
labour disturbances which show themselves here and there. 

The state rests on the - slavery of labour. If labour becomes free , 
the state is lost. 

§2 Social liberalism 

We are free-born men, and wherever we look we see ourselves made 
servants of egoists! Are we therefore to become egoists too! Heaven 
forbid! We want rather to make egoists impossible! We want to make 
them all ‘ragamuffins [. Lumpen)’] all of us must have nothing, that ‘all 
may have’. 

So say the socialists. 

Who is this person that you call ‘all’? - It is ‘society’! - But is it 
corporeal, then? - We are its body! - You? Why, you are not a body 
yourselves - you, sir, are corporeal to be sure, you too, and you, but 
you all together are only bodies, not a body. Accordingly the united 
society may indeed have bodies at its service, but no one body of its 
own. Like the ‘nation’ of the politicians, it will turn out to be nothing 
but a ‘spirit’, its body only semblance. 

The freedom of man is, in political liberalism, freedom from per- 
sons , from personal dominion, from the master ; the securing of each 
individual person against other persons, personal freedom. 

No one has any orders to give; the law alone gives orders. 

But, even if the persons have become equal , yet their possessions 
have not. And yet the poor man needs the rich , the rich the poor, the 
former the rich man’s money, the latter the poor man’s labour. So 
no one needs another as a person , but needs him as a giver , and thus 
as one who has something to give, as holder or possessor. So what 
he has makes the man. And in having , or in ‘possessions’, people are 

Consequently, social liberalism concludes, no one must have , as 
according to political liberalism no one was to give orders ; as in that case 
the state alone obtained the command, so now society alone obtains the 


The Ego and Its Own 

For the state, protecting each one’s person and property against 
the other, separates them from one another; each one is his special 
part and has his special part. He who is satisfied with what he is and 
has finds this state of things profitable; but he who would like to be 
and have more looks around for this ‘more’, and finds it in the power 
of other persons. Here he comes upon a contradiction; as a person 
no one is inferior to another, and yet one person has what another 
has not but would like to have. So, he concludes, the one person is 
more than the other, after all, for the former has what he needs, the 
latter has not; the former is a rich man, the latter a poor man. 

He now asks himself further, are we to let what we rightly buried 
come to life again? Are we to let this circuitously restored inequality 
of persons pass? No; on the contrary, we must bring quite to an end 
what was only half accomplished. Our freedom from another’s person 
still lacks the freedom from what the other’s person can command, 
from what he has in his personal power, in short, from ‘personal 
property’. Let us then do away with personal property. Let no one have 
anything any longer, let every one be a - ragamuffin. Let property 
be impersonal , let it belong to - society. 

Before the supreme ruler , the sole commander , we had all become 
equal, equal persons, that is, nullities. 

Before the supreme proprietor we all become equal - ragamuffins. 
For the present, one is still in another’s estimation a ‘ragamuffin’, a 
‘have-nothing’; but then this estimation ceases. We are all raga- 
muffins together, and as the aggregate of communistic society we 
might call ourselves a ‘ragamuffin crew’. 

When the proletarian shall really have founded his intended 
‘society’ in which the interval between rich and poor is to be removed, 
then he will be a ragamuffin, for then he will feel that it amounts to 
something to be a ragamuffin, and might lift ‘ragamuffin’ to be an 
honourable form of address, just as the revolution did with the word 
‘citizen’. Ragamuffin is his ideal; we are all to become ragamuffins. 

This is the second robbery of the ‘personal’ in the interest of 
‘humanity’. Neither command nor property is left to the individual; 
the state took the former, society the latter. 

Because in society the most oppressive evils make themselves felt, 
therefore the oppressed especially, and consequently the members of 
the lower regions of society, think they found the fault in society, and 
make it their task to discover the right society. This is only the old 


Men of the old time and the new 

phenomenon, that one looks for the fault first in everything but him- 
self and consequently in the state, in the self-seeking of the rich, and 
so on, which yet have precisely our fault to thank for their existence. 

The reflections and conclusions of communism look very simple. 
As matters lie at this time, in the present situation with regard to the 
state, therefore, some, and they the majority, are at a disadvantage 
compared to others, the minority. In this state of things the former 
are in a state of prosperity, the latter in a state of need. Hence the present 
state of things, the state itself, must be done away with. And what in 
its place? Instead of the isolated state of prosperity - a general state 
of prosperity, a prosperity of all. 

Through the revolution the bourgeoisie became omnipotent, and 
all inequality was abolished by every one’s being raised or degraded 
to the dignity of a citizen : the common man - raised, the aristocrat - 
degraded; the third estate became sole estate, namely, the estate of - 
citizens of the state. Now communism responds: Our dignity and our 
essence consist not in our being all - the equal children of our mother, 
the state, all born with equal claim to her love and her protection, 
but in our all existing for each other. This is our equality, or herein 
we are equal, in that we, I as well as you and you and all of you, are 
active or ‘labour’ each one for the rest; in that each of us is a labourer, 
then. The point for us is not what we are for the state (citizens), not 
our citizenship therefore, but what we are for each other, that each of 
us exists only through the other, who, caring for my wants, at the 
same time sees his own satisfied by me. He labours for my clothing 
(tailor), I for his need of amusement (comedy-writer, rope-dancer), 
he for my food (farmer), I for his instruction (scientist). It is labour 
that constitutes our dignity and our - equality. 

What advantage does citizenship bring us? Burdens! And how high 
is our labour appraised? As low as possible! But labour is our sole 
value all the same: that we are labourers is the best thing about us, 
this is our significance in the world, and therefore it must be our 
consideration too and must come to receive consideration. What can 
you meet us with? Surely nothing but - labour too. Only for labour 
or services do we owe you a recompense, not for your bare existence; 
not for what you are for yourselves either, but only for what you are 
for us. By what have you claims on us? Perhaps by your high birth? 
No, only by what you do for us that is desirable or useful. Be it thus 
then: we are willing to be worth to you only so much as we do for 


The Eg$ and Its Own 

you; but you are to be held likewise by us. Services determine value, 
those services that are worth something to us, and consequently 
labours for each other, labours for the common good. Let each one be in 
the other’s eyes a labourer. He who accomplishes something useful 
is inferior to none, or - all labourers (labourers, of course, in the 
sense of labourers ‘for the common good’, that is, communistic 
labourers) are equal. But, as the labourer is worth his wages , 138 let 
the wages too be equal. 

As long as faith sufficed for man’s honour and dignity, no labour, 
however strenuous, could be objected to if it only did not hinder a 
man in his faith. Now, on the contrary, when every one is to cultivate 
himself into man, condemning a man to machine-like labour amounts 
to the same thing as slavery. If a factory worker must tire himself to 
death twelve hours and more, he is cut off from becoming man. Every 
labour is to have the intent that the man be satisfied. Therefore he 
must become a master in it too, be able to perform it as a totality. He 
who in a pin-factory only puts on the heads, only draws the wire, 
works, as it were, mechanically, like a machine; he remains half- 
trained, does not become a master: his labour cannot satisfy him, it 
can only fatigue him. His labour is nothing by itself, has no object in 
itself is nothing complete in itself; he labours only into another’s 
hands, and is used (exploited) by this other. For this labourer in 
another’s service there is no enjoyment of a cultivated mind , at most, 
crude amusements: culture , you see, is barred against him. To be a 
good Christian one needs only to believe , and that can be done under 
the most oppressive circumstances. Hence the Christian-minded take 
care only of the oppressed labourers’ piety, their patience, sub- 
mission, etc. Only so long as the downtrodden classes were Christians 
could they bear all their misery: for Christianity does not let their 
murmurings and exasperation rise. Now the hushing of desires is no 
longer enough, but their sating is demanded. The bourgeoisie has 
proclaimed the gospel of the enjoyment of the world , of material enjoy- 
ment, and now wonders that this doctrine finds adherents among us 
poor: it has shown that not faith and poverty, but culture and pos- 
sessions, make a man blessed; we proletarians understand that too. 

The commonalty freed us from the orders and arbitrariness of 
individuals. But that arbitrariness was left which springs from the 
conjuncture of situations, and may be called the fortuity of circum- 


Men of the old time and the new 

stances; favouring fortune , and those ‘favoured by fortune’, still 

When, for example, a branch of industry is ruined and thousands 
of labourers become breadless, people think reasonably enough to 
acknowledge that it is not the individual who must bear the blame, 
but that ‘the evil lies in the situation’. 

Let us change the situation then, but let us change it thoroughly, 
and so that its fortuity becomes powerless, and a law\ Let us no 
longer be slaves of chance! Let us create a new order that makes an 
end of fluctuations. Let this order then be sacred! 

Formerly one had to suit the lords to come to anything; after the 
revolution the word was ‘grasp fortuneV Fortune -hunting or gambling, 
civil life was absorbed in this. Then, alongside this, the demand that 
he who has obtained something shall not frivolously stake it again. 

Strange and yet supremely natural contradiction. Competition, in 
which alone civil or political life unrolls itself, is a game of luck 
through and through, from the speculations of the exchange down 
to the solicitation of offices, the hunt for customers, looking for work, 
aspiring to promotion and decorations, the second-hand dealer’s 
petty haggling, etc. If one succeeds in supplanting and outbidding 
his rivals, then the ‘lucky throw’ is made; for it must be taken as a 
piece of luck to begin with that the victor sees himself equipped with 
an ability (even though it has been developed by the most careful 
industry) against which the others do not know how to rise, conse- 
quently that - no abler ones are found. And now those who ply their 
daily lives in the midst of these changes of fortune without seeing 
any harm in it are seized with the most virtuous indignation when 
their own principle appears in naked form and ‘breeds misfortune’ 
as - gambling. Gambling, you see, is too clear, too barefaced a com- 
petition, and, like every decided nakedness, offends honourable 

The socialists want to put a stop to this activity of chance, and to 
form a society in which men are no longer dependent on fortune , but 

In the most natural way in the world this endeavour first utters 
itself as hatred of the ‘unfortunate’ against the ‘fortunate’, of those 
for whom fortune has done little or nothing, against those for whom 
it has done everything. 


The Ego and Its Own 

But properly the ill-feeling is not directed against the fortunate, 
but against fortune , this rotten spot of the commonalty. 

As the communists first declare free activity to be man’s essence, 
they, like all work-day dispositions, need a Sunday; like all material 
endeavours, they need a God, an uplifting and edification alongside 
their witless ‘labour’. 

That the communist sees in you the man, the brother, is only the 
Sunday side of communism. According to the work-day side he does 
not by any means take you as man simply, but as human labourer or 
labouring man. The first view has in it the liberal principle; in the 
second, illiberality is concealed. If you were a ‘lazybones’, he would 
not indeed fail to recognize the man in you, but would endeavour 
to cleanse him as a ‘lazy man’ from laziness and to convert you to 
the faith that labour is man’s ‘destiny and calling’. 

Therefore he shows a double face: with the one he takes heed that 
the spiritual man be satisfied, with the other he looks about him for 
means for the material or corporeal man. He gives man a twofold 
post , an office of material acquisition and one of spiritual. 

The commonalty had thrown open spiritual and material goods, and 
left it with each one to reach out for them if he liked. 

Communism really procures them for each one, presses them upon 
him, and compels him to acquire them. It takes seriously the idea 
that, because only spiritual and material goods make us men, we 
must unquestionably acquire these goods in order to be man. The 
commonalty made acquisition free; communism compels to acqui- 
sition, and recognizes only the acquirer , him who practises a trade. It 
is not enough that the trade is free, but you must take it up. 

So all that is left for criticism to do is to prove that the acquisition 
of these goods does not yet by any means make us men. 

With the liberal commandment that every one is to make a man 
of himself, or every one to make himself man, there was posited the 
necessity that every one must gain time for this labour of humaniz- 
ation, that is, that it should become possible for every one to labour 
on himself 

The commonalty thought it had brought this about if it handed 
over everything human to competition, but gave the individual a right 
to every human thing. ‘Each may strive after everything!’ 

Social liberalism finds that the matter is not settled with the ‘may’, 
because may means only ‘it is forbidden to none’ but not ‘it is made 


Men of the old time and the new 

possible to every one’. Hence it affirms that the commonalty is liberal 
only with the mouth and in words, supremely illiberal in act. It on 
its part wants to give all of us the means to be able to labour on 

By the principle of labour that of fortune or competition is certainly 
outdone. But at the same time the labourer, in his consciousness that 
the essential thing in him is ‘the labourer’, holds himself aloof from 
egoism and subjects himself to the supremacy of a society of labour- 
ers, as the commoner clung with self-abandonment to the compe- 
tition-state. The beautiful dream of a ‘social duty’ still continues to 
be dreamed. People think again that society gives what we need, and 
we are under obligations to it on that account, owe it everything." They 
are still at the point of wanting to serve a ‘supreme giver of all good’. 
That society is no ego at all, which could give, bestow, or grant, but 
an instrument or means, from which we may derive benefit; that we 
have no social duties, but solely interests for the pursuance of which 
society must serve us; that we owe society no sacrifice, but, if we 
sacrifice anything, sacrifice it to ourselves - of this the socialists do 
not think, because they - as liberals - are imprisoned in the religious 
principle, and zealously aspire after - a sacred society, such as the 
State was hitherto. 

Society, from which we have everything, is a new master, a new 
spook, a new ‘supreme being’, which ‘takes us into its service and 

The more precise appreciation of political as well as social liberal- 
ism must wait to find its place further on. For the present we pass this 
over, in order first to summon them before the tribunal of humane or 
critical liberalism. 

§3 Humane liberalism 

As liberalism is completed in self-criticizing, ‘critical’ 139 liberalism, 
in which the critic remains a liberal and does not go beyond the 
principle of liberalism, man, this may distinctively be named after 
man and called the ‘humane’. 

" Proudhon cries out: ‘in industry as in science, the publication of an invention is the 
first and most sacred of duties ' , De la creation de I’ordre dans Vhumanite ou principes 
d’ organisation politique (Paris, 1843), p. 414. 

1 1 1 

The Ego and Its Own 

The labourer is counted as the most material and egoistical man. 
He does nothing at all for humanity , does everything for himself for 
his welfare. 

The commonalty, because it proclaimed the freedom of man only 
as to his birth, had to leave him in the claws of the un-human man 
[Unmenschen] (the egoist) for the rest of life. Hence under the regime 
of political liberalism egoism has an immense field for free utilization. 

The labourer will utilize society for his egoistic ends as the com- 
moner does the state. You have only an egoistic end after all, your 
welfare, is the humane liberal’s reproach to the socialist; take up a 
purely human interest , then I will be your companion. ‘But to this 
there belongs a consciousness stronger, more comprehensive, than a 
labourer-consciousness .’ ‘The labourer makes nothing, therefore he has 
nothing; but he makes nothing because his labour is always a labour 
that remains individual, calculated strictly for his own want, a labour 
day by day .’ 0 In opposition to this one might, for instance, consider 
the fact that Gutenberg’s 142 labour did not remain individual, but 
begat innumerable children, and still lives today; it was calculated for 
the want of humanity, and was an eternal, imperishable labour. 

The humane consciousness despises the commoner-consciousness 
as well as the labourer-consciousness: for the commoner is ‘indig- 
nant’ only at vagabonds (at all who have ‘no definite occupation’) and 
their ‘immorality’; the labourer is ‘disgusted’ by the idler (‘lazybones’) 
and his ‘immoral’, because parasitic and unsocial, principles. To this 
the humane liberal retorts: The unsettledness of many is only your 
product, philistine! But that you, proletarian, demand th e grind of all, 
and want to make drudgery general, is a part, still clinging to you, of 
your pack-mule life up to this time. Certainly you want to lighten 
drudgery itself by all having to drudge equally hard, yet only for this 
reason, that all may gain leisure to an equal extent. But what are they 
to do with their leisure? What does your ‘society’ do, that this leisure 
may be passed humanly ? It must leave the gained leisure to egoistic 
preference again, and the very gain that your society promotes falls 
to the egoist, as the gain of the commonalty, the masterlessness of man , 
could not be filled with a human element by the state, and therefore 
was left to arbitrary choice. 

Edgar Bauer (anonymously), review of Flora Tristan, 14 * Union ouvriere (Paris, 1843), 
in Bruno Bauer (ed.), Allgemeine Literaturzeitung, ul no. 5 (April 1844). 

1 1 2 

Men of the old time and the new 

It is assuredly necessary that man be masterless: but therefore the 
egoist is not to become master over man again either, but man over 
the egoist. Man must assuredly find leisure: but, if the egoist makes 
use of it, it will be lost for man; therefore you ought to have given 
leisure a human significance. But you labourers undertake even your 
labour from an egoistic impulse, because you want to eat, drink, live; 
how should you be less egoists in leisure? You labour only because 
having your time to yourselves (idling) goes well after work done, 
and what you are to while away your leisure time with is left to chance. 

But, if every door is to be bolted against egoism, it would be 
necessary to strive after completely ‘disinterested’ action, total disin- 
terestedness. This alone is human, because only man is disinterested, 
the egoist always interested. 

If we let disinterestedness pass unchallenged for a while, then we 
ask, do you mean not to take an interest in anything, not to be 
enthusiastic for anything, not for liberty, humanity, etc.? ‘Oh, yes, 
but that is not an egoistic interest, not interestedness , but a human, 
that is a - theoretical interest, namely, an interest not for an individual 
or individuals (‘all’), but for the idea , for man!’ 

And you do not notice that you too are enthusiastic only for your 
idea, your idea of liberty? 

And, further, do you not notice that your disinterestedness is again, 
like religious disinterestedness, a heavenly interestedness? Certainly 
benefit to the individual leaves you cold, and abstractly you could cry 
fiat libertas, pereat mundus . 143 You do not take thought for the coming 
day either, and take no serious care for the individual’s wants anyhow, 
not for your own comfort nor for that of the rest; but you make 
nothing of all this, because you are a - dreamer. 

Do you suppose the humane liberal will be so liberal as to aver 
that everything possible to man is human ? On the contrary! He does 
not, indeed, share the philistine’s moral prejudice about the whore, 
but ‘that this woman turns her body into a money-getting machine ’ 11 
makes her despicable to him as ‘human being’. His judgement is, the 
strumpet is not a human being; or, so far as a woman is a whore, so 

Edgar Bauer (anonymously), ‘ Beraud iiber die Freudenmadchen \ a review of F. F. A. 
Beraud, 144 Les piles publiques de Paris et la police qui les regit, 2 volumes (Paris and 
Leipzig, 1839), in Allgemeine Literaturzeitung, no. 5 (April 1844), p. 26. 

The Ego and Its Own 

far is she un-human, dehumanized. Further: the Jew, the Christian, 
the privileged person, the theologian, etc., is not a human being; so 
far as you are a Jew, etc., you are not a human being. Again the 
imperious postulate: Cast from you everything peculiar, criticize it 
away! Be not a Jew, not a Christian, but be a human being, nothing 
but a human being. Assert your humanity against every restrictive 
specification; make yourself, by means of it, a human being, and free 
from those limits; make yourself a ‘free man’, that is recognize 
humanity as your all-determining essence. 

I say: You are indeed more than a Jew, more than a Christian, 
etc., but you are also more than a human being. Those are all ideas, 
but you are corporeal. Do you suppose, then, that you can ever 
become a ‘human being as such’? Do you suppose our posterity will 
find no prejudices and limits to clear away, for which our powers 
were not sufficient? Or do you perhaps think that in your fortieth or 
fiftieth year you have come so far that the following days have nothing 
more to dissipate in you, and that you are a human being? The men 
of the future will yet fight their way to many a liberty that we do not 
even miss. What do you need that later liberty 7 for? If you meant to 
esteem yourself as nothing before you had become a human being, 
you would have to wait until the ‘last judgement’, until the day when 
man, or humanity, shall have attained perfection. But, as you will 
surely die before that, what becomes of your prize of victory? 

Rather, therefore, invert the case, and say to yourself, lam a human 
being! I do not need to begin by producing the human being in myself, 
for he belongs to me already, like all my qualities. 

But, asks the critic, how can one be a Jew and a man at once? In 
the first place, I answer, one cannot be either a Jew or a man at all, 
if ‘one’ and Jew or man are to mean the same; ‘one’ always reaches 
beyond those specifications, and - let Isaacs be ever so Jewish - a 
Jew, nothing but a Jew, he cannot be, just because he is this Jew. In 
the second place, as a Jew one assuredly cannot be a man, if being 
a man means being nothing special. But in the third place - and this 
is the point - I can, as a Jew, be entirely what I - can be. From 
Samuel or Moses , 143 and others, you hardly expect that they should 
have raised themselves above Judaism, although you must say that 
they were not yet ‘men’. They simply were what they could be. Is it 
otherwise with the Jews of today? Because you have discovered the 

1 14 

Men of the old time and the new 

idea of humanity, does it follow from this that every Jew can become 
a convert to it? If he can, he does not fail to, and, if he fails to, he - 
cannot. What does your demand concern him, what the call to be a 
man, which you address to him? 

As a universal principle, in the ‘human society’ which the humane 
liberal promises, nothing ‘special’ which one or another has is to find 
recognition, nothing which bears the character of ‘private’ is to have 
value. In this way the circle of liberalism, which has its good principle 
in man and human liberty, its bad in the egoist and everything private, 
its God in the former, its devil in the latter, rounds itself off com- 
pletely; and, if the special or private person lost his value in the state 
(no personal prerogative), if in the ‘labourers’ or ragamuffins’ society’ 
special (private) property is no longer recognized, so in ‘human 
society’ everything special or private will be left out of account; and, 
when ‘pure criticism’ shall have accomplished its arduous task, then 
it will be known just what we must look upon as private, and what, 
‘penetrated with a sense of our nothingness’, we must - let stand. 

Because state and society do not suffice for humane liberalism, it 
negates both, and at the same time retains them. So at one time the 
cry is that the task of the day is ‘not a political, but a social, one’, 
and then again the ‘free state’ is promised for the future. In truth, 
‘human society’ is both the most general state and the most general 
society. Only against the limited state is it asserted that it makes too 
much stir about spiritual private interests (people’s religious belief), 
and against limited society that it makes too much of material private 
interests. Both are to leave private interests to private people, and, 
as human society, concern themselves solely about general human 

The politicians, thinking to abolish personal will , self-will or arbi- 
trariness, did not observe that through property [. Eigentum ] our self-will 
[Eigenwille] gained a secure place of refuge. 

The socialists, taking away property too, do not notice that this 
secures itself a continued existence in self-ownership [. Eigenheit ]. Is it 
only money and goods, then, that are a property, or is every opinion 
something of mine, something of my own? 

So every opinion must be abolished or made impersonal. The 
person is entitled to no opinion, but, as self-will was transferred to 


The Ego and Its Own 

the state, property to society, so opinion too must be transferred 
to something general , ‘man’, and thereby become a general human 

If opinion persists, then I have my God (why, God exists only as 
‘my God’, he is an opinion or my ‘faith’), and consequently my faith, 
my religion, my thoughts, my ideals. Therefore a general human faith 
must come into existence, the ‘ fanaticism of liberty. For this would be 
a faith that agreed with the ‘essence of man’, and, because only ‘man’ 
is reasonable (you and I might be very unreasonable!), a reasonable 

As self-will and property become powerless, so must self-ownership 
or egoism in general. 

In this supreme development of ‘free man’ egoism, self-ownership, 
is combated on principle, and such subordinate ends as the social 
‘welfare’ of the socialists, etc., vanish before the lofty ‘idea of 
humanity’. Everything that is not a ‘general human’ entity is some- 
thing separate, satisfies only some or one; or, if it satisfies all, it does 
this to them only as individuals, not as men, and is therefore called 

To the socialists welfare is still the supreme aim, as free rivalry was 
the approved thing to the political liberals; now welfare is free too, 
and we are free to achieve welfare, just as he who wanted to enter 
into rivalry (competition) was free to do so. 

But to take part in the rivalry you need only to be commoners ; to 
take part in the welfare, only to be labourers. Neither reaches the 
point of being synonymous with ‘man’. It is ‘truly well’ with man only 
when he is also ‘intellectually free’! For man is mind: therefore all 
powers that are alien to him, the mind - all superhuman, heavenly, 
unhuman powers - must be overthrown and the name ‘man’ must 
be above every name. 

So in this end of the modern age (age of the moderns) there 
returns again, as the main point, what had been the main point at its 
beginning: ‘intellectual liberty’. 

To the communist in particular the humane liberal says: If society 
prescribes to you your activity, then this is indeed free from the 
influence of the individual, the egoist, but it still does not on that 
account need to be a purely human activity, nor you to be a complete 
organ of humanity. What kind of activity society demands of you 
remains accidental you know; it might give you a place in building a 


Men of the old time and the new 

temple or something of that sort, or, even if not that, you might 
yet on your own impulse be active for something foolish, therefore 
unhuman; yes, more yet, you really labour only to nourish yourself, 
in general to live, for dear life’s sake, not for the glorification of 
humanity. Consequently free activity is not attained until you make 
yourself free from all stupidities, from everything non-human, 
namely, egoistic (pertaining only to the individual, not to the man in 
the individual), dissipate all untrue thoughts that obscure man or the 
idea of humanity: in short, when you are not merely unhampered in 
your activity, but the substance too of your activity is only what is 
human, and you live and work only for humanity. But this is not the 
case so long as the aim of your effort is only your welfare and that of 
all; what you do for the society of ragamuffins is not yet anything 
done for ‘human society’. 

Labouring does not alone make you a man, because it is something 
formal and its object accidental; the question is who you that labour 
are. As far as labouring goes, you might do it from an egoistic 
(material) impulse, merely to procure nourishment and the like; it 
must be a labour furthering humanity, calculated for the good of 
humanity, serving historical (human) evolution, in short, a human 
labour. This implies two things: one, that it be useful to humanity; 
next, that it be the work of a ‘man’. The first alone may be the case 
with every labour, as even the labours of nature, as of animals, are 
utilized by humanity for the furthering of science, etc.; the second 
requires that he who labours should know the human object of his 
labour; and, as he can have this consciousness only when he knows 
himself as man , the crucial condition is - self-consciousness. 

Unquestionably much is already attained when you cease to be a 
‘fragment-labourer’, yet with that you only get a view of the whole 
of your labour, and acquire a consciousness about it, which is still 
far removed from a self-consciousness, a consciousness about your 
true ‘self’ or ‘essence’, man. The labourer has still remaining the 
desire for a ‘higher consciousness’, which, because the activity of 
labour is unable to quiet it, he satisfies in a leisure hour. Hence 
leisure stands by the side of his labour, and he sees himself compelled 
to proclaim labour and idling human in one breath, yes, to attribute 
the true elevation to the idler, the leisure-enjoyer. He labours only 
to get rid of labour; he wants to make labour free, only that he may 
be free from labour. 

The Ego and Its Own 

In short, his work has no satisfying substance, because it is only 
imposed by society, only a stint, a task, a calling; and, conversely, his 
society does not satisfy, because it gives only work. 

His labour ought to satisfy him as a man; instead of that, it satisfies 
society; society ought to treat him as a man, and it treats him as - a 
rag-tag labourer, or a labouring ragamuffin. 

Labour and society are of use to him not as he needs them as a 
man, but only as he needs them as an ‘egoist’. 

Such is the attitude of criticism toward labour. It points to ‘mind’, 
wages the war ‘of mind with the masses’,'' and pronounces commu- 
nistic labour unintellectual mass-labour. Averse to labour as they are, 
the masses love to make labour easy for themselves. In literature, 
which is today furnished in mass, this aversion to labour begets the 
universally- known superficiality, which puts from it ‘the toil of 

Therefore humane liberalism says: You want labour; all right, we 
want it likewise, but we want it in the fullest measure. We want it, 
not that we may gain spare time, but that we may find all satisfaction 
in it itself. We want labour because it is our self-development. 

But then the labour too must be adapted to that end! Man is 
honoured only by human, self-conscious labour, only by the labour 
that has for its end no ‘egoistic’ purpose, but man, and is man’s 
self-revelation; so that the saying should be laboro, ergo sum, I labour, 
therefore I am a man. The humane liberal wants that labour of the 
mind which works up all material; he wants the mind, that leaves no 
thing quiet or in its existing condition, that acquiesces in nothing, 
analyses everything, criticizes anew every result that has been gained. 
This restless mind is the true labourer, it obliterates prejudices, shat- 
ters limits and narrownesses, and raises man above everything that 
would like to dominate over him, while the communist labours only 
for himself, and not even freely, but from necessity, in short, rep- 
resents a man condemned to hard labour. 

The labourer of such a type is not ‘egoistic’, because he does not 
labour for individuals, neither for himself nor for other individuals, 
not for private men therefore, but for humanity and its progress: he 
does not ease individual pains, does not care for individual wants, 

* Bruno Bauer (anonymously), review of H. F. W. Hinrichs, 146 Politische Vorlesungen, 2 
volumes (Halle, 1843), mAllgemeine Liternturzeitmg, no. 5 (April 1844), p. 24. 

* Ibid. 

1 18 

Men of the old time and the new 

but removes limits within which humanity is pressed, dispels preju- 
dices which dominate an entire time, vanquishes hindrances that 
obstruct the path of all, clears away errors in which men entangle 
themselves, discovers truths which are found through him for all and 
for all time; in short - he lives and labours for humanity. 

Now, in the first place, the discoverer of a great truth doubtless 
knows that it can be useful to the rest of men, and, as a jealous 
withholding furnishes him no enjoyment, he communicates it; but, 
even though he has the consciousness that his communication is 
highly valuable to the rest, yet he has in no way sought and found 
his truth for the sake of the rest, but for his own sake, because he 
himself desired it, because darkness and fancies left him no rest until 
he had procured for himself light and enlightenment to the best of 
his powers. 

He labours, therefore, for his own sake and for the satisfaction of 
his want. That along with this he was also useful to others, yes, to 
posterity, does not take from his labour the egoistic character. 

In the next place, if he did labour only on his own account, like 
the rest, why should his act be human, those of the rest unhuman, 
that is, egoistic? Perhaps because this book, painting, symphony, is 
the labour of his whole being, because he has done his best in it, has 
spread himself out wholly and is wholly to be known from it, while 
the work of a handicraftsman mirrors only the handicraftsman, the 
skill in handicraft, not ‘the man’? In his poems we have the whole 
Schiller ; 147 in so many hundred stoves, on the other hand, we have 
before us only the stove-maker, not ‘the man’. 

But does this mean more than ‘in the one work you see me as 
completely as possible, in the other only my skill’? Is it not me again 
that the act expresses? And is it not more egoistic to offer oneself to 
the world in a work, to work out and shape oneself than to remain 
concealed behind one’s labour? You say, to be sure, that you are 
revealing man. But the man that you reveal is you; you reveal only 
yourself, yet with this distinction from the handicraftsman, that he 
does not understand how to compress himself into one labour, but, 
in order to be known as himself, must be searched out in his other 
relations of lif e, and that your want, through whose satisfaction that 
work came into being, was a - theoretical want. 

But you will reply that you reveal quite another man, a worthier, 
higher, greater, a man that is more man than that other. I will assume 

The Ego and Its Own 

that you accomplish all that is possible to man, that you bring to pass 
what no other succeeds in. In what, then, does your greatness consist? 
Precisely in this, that you are more than other men (the ‘masses’), 
more than men ordinarily are, more than ‘ordinary men’; precisely in 
your elevation above men. You are distinguished beyond other men 
not by being man, but because you are a ‘unique [einziger] ’ man. 
Doubtless you show what a man can do; but because you, a man, do 
it, this by no means shows that others, also men, are able to do as 
much; you have executed it only as a unique man, and are unique 

It is not man that makes up your greatness, but you create it, 
because you are more than man, and mightier than other - men. 

It is believed that one cannot be more than man. Rather, one 
cannot be less! 

It is believed further that whatever one attains is good for man. In 
so far as I remain at all times a man - or, like Schiller, a Swabian; 
like Kant , 148 a Prussian; like Gustavus Adolphus , 149 a near-sighted 
person - I certainly become by my superior qualities a notable man, 
Swabian, Prussian, or near-sighted person. But the case is not much 
better with that than with Frederick the Great’s 130 cane, which 
became famous for Frederick’s sake. 

To ‘Give God the glory’ corresponds the modern ‘Give man the 
glory’. But I mean to keep it for myself. 

Criticism, issuing the summons to man to be ‘human’, enunciates 
the necessary condition of sociability; for only as a man among men 
is one companionable. With this it makes known its social object, the 
establishment of ‘human society’. 

Among social theories criticism is indisputably the most complete, 
because it removes and deprives of value everything that separates 
man from man: all prerogatives, down to the prerogative of faith. In 
it the love-principle of Christianity, the true social principle, comes 
to the purest fulfilment, and the last possible experiment is tried to 
take away exclusiveness and repulsion from men: a fight against 
egoism in its simplest and therefore hardest form, in the form of 
singleness [Einzigkeit ] , exclusiveness, itself. 

‘How can you live a truly social life so long as even one exclusive- 
ness still exists between you?’ 

I ask conversely: How can you be truly single so long as even one 
connection still exists between you? If you are connected, you cannot 


Men of the old time and the new 

leave each other; if a ‘tie’ clasps you, you are something only with 
another , and twelve of you make a dozen, thousands of you a people, 
millions of you humanity. 

‘Only when you are human can you keep company with each other 
as men, just as you can understand each other as patriots only when 
you are patriotic!’ 

All right, then I answer: Only when you are single can you have 
intercourse with each other as what you are. 

It is precisely the keenest critic who is hit hardest by the curse of 
his principle. Putting from him one exclusive thing after another, 
shaking off churchliness, patriotism, etc., he undoes one tie after 
another and separates himself from the churchly man, from the 
patriot, until at last, when all ties are undone, he stands - alone. He, 
of all men, must exclude all that have anything exclusive or private; 
and, when you get to the bottom, what can be more exclusive than 
the exclusive, single person himself! 

Or does he perhaps think that the situation would be better if all 
became ‘man’ and gave up exclusiveness? Why, for the very reason 
that ‘all’ means ‘every individual’ the most glaring contradiction is 
still maintained, for the ‘individual’ is exclusiveness itself. If the 
humane liberal no longer concedes to the individual anything private 
or exclusive, any private thought, any private folly; if he criticizes 
everything away from him before his face, since his hatred of the 
private is an absolute and fanatical hatred; if he knows no tolerance 
toward what is private, because everything private is unhuman 
[unmenschlich] - yet he cannot criticize away the private person him- 
self, since the hardness of the individual person resists his criticism, 
and he must be satisfied with declaring this person a ‘private person’ 
and really leaving everything private to him again. 

What will the society that no longer cares about anything private 
do? Make the private impossible? No, but ‘subordinate it to the inter- 
ests of society, and, for example, leave it to private will to institute 
holidays as many as it chooses, if only it does not come in collision 
with the general interest’.* Everything private is left free; that is, it has 
no interest for society. 

By their raising barriers against science the church and 
religiousness have declared that they are what they always were, 

J Bruno Bauer, Die Jfudenfrage 151 (Brunswick, 1843), p. 66. 

1 2 I 

The Ego and Its Own 

only that this was hidden under another semblance when they 
were proclaimed to be the basis and necessary foundation of the 
state - a matter of purely private concern. Even when they were 
connected with the state and made it Christian, they were only 
the proof that the state had not yet developed its general political 
idea, that it was only instituting private rights - they were only 
the highest expression of the fact that the state was a private 
affair and had to do only with private affairs. When the state 
shall at last have the courage and strength to fulfil its general 
destiny and to be free; when, therefore, it is also able to give 
separate interests and private concerns their true position - then 
religion and the church will be free as they have never been 
hitherto. As a matter of the most purely private concern, and a 
satisfaction of purely personal want, they will be left to them- 
selves; and every individual, every congregation and ecclesiastical 
communion, will be able to care for the blessedness of their souls 
as they choose and as they think necessary. Every one will care 
for his soul’s blessedness so far as it is to him a personal want, 
and will accept and pay as spiritual caretaker the one who seems 
to him to offer the best guarantee for the satisfaction of his want. 
Science is at last left entirely out of the game." 

What is to happen, though? Is social life to have an end, and all 
companionableness, all fraternization, everything that is created by 
the love or society principle, to disappear? 

As if one will not always seek the other because he needs him; as 
if one must accommodate himself to the other when he needs him. 
But the difference is this, that then the individual really unites with 
the individual, while formerly they were bound together by a tie; son 
and father are bound together before majority, after it they can come 
together independently; before it they belonged together as members 
of the family, after it they unite as egoists; sonship and fatherhood 
remain, but son and father no longer pin themselves down to these. 

The last privilege, in truth, is ‘man’; with it all are privileged or 
invested. For, as Bruno Bauer himself says, ‘privilege remains even 
when it is extended to all’.* 

Thus liberalism runs its course in the following transformations: 

“ Bruno Bauer, Die gute Sache der Freiheit und meine eigene Angelegenheit (Zurich and 
Winterthur, 1842), pp. 62-3. 152 
* Bauer, Die jfudenfrage, p. 60. 


Men of the old time and the new 

First: The individual is not man, therefore his individual person- 
ality is of no account: no personal will, no arbitrariness, no orders or 

Second: The individual has nothing human, therefore no mine and 
thine, or property, is valid. 

Third: As the individual neither is man nor has anything human, 
he shall not exist at all: he shall, as an egoist with his egoistic belong- 
ings, be annihilated by criticism to make room for man, ‘man, just 

But, although the individual is not man, man is yet present in the 
individual, and, like every spook and everything divine, has its exist- 
ence in him. Hence political liberalism awards to the individual every- 
thing that pertains to him as ‘a man by birth’, as a born man, among 
which there are counted liberty of conscience, the possession of 
goods - in short, the ‘rights of man’; socialism grants to the individual 
what pertains to him as an active man, as a ‘labouring’ man; finally, 
humane liberalism gives the individual what he has as ‘a man’, that 
is, everything that belongs to humanity. Accordingly the single one 
[. Einzige ] has nothing at all, humanity everything; and the necessity 
of the ‘regeneration’ preached in Christianity is demanded unam- 
biguously and in the completest measure. Become a new creature, 
become ‘man’! 

One might even think himself reminded of the close of the Lord’s 
Prayer. To man belongs the lordship (the ‘power’ or dynamis)\ there- 
fore no individual may be lord, but man is the lord of individuals; - 
man’s is the kingdom, the world, consequently the individual is not 
to be proprietor, but man, ‘all’, command the world as property - to 
man is due renown, glorification or ‘glory’ ( doxa ) from all, for man or 
humanity is the individual’s end, for which he labours, thinks, lives, 
and for whose glorification he must become ‘man’. 

Hitherto men have always striven to find out a community in which 
their inequalities in other respects should become ‘non-essential’; 
they strove for equalization, consequently for equality, and wanted to 
come all under one hat, which means nothing less than that they 
were seeking for one lord, one tie, one faith (‘it is in one God we all 
believe’). There cannot be for men anything more communal or more 
equal than man himself, and in this community the love-craving has 
found its contentment: it did not rest until it had brought on this last 
equalization, levelled all inequality, laid man on the breast of man. 


The Ego and Its Own 

But under this very community decay and ruin become most glaring. 
In a more limited community the Frenchman still stood against the 
German, the Christian against the Moslem, and so on. Now, on the 
contrary, man stands against men , or, as men are not man, man stands 
against the un-man. 

The sentence ‘God has become man’ is now followed by the other, 
‘man has become I’. This is the human I. But we invert it and say: I 
was not able to find myself so long as I sought myself as man. But, 
now that it appears that man is aspiring to become I and to gain a 
corporeity in me, I note that, after all, everything depends on me, 
and man is lost without me. But I do not care to give myself up to 
be the shrine of this most holy thing, and shall not ask henceforw ard 
whether I am man or un-man in what I set about; let this spirit keep 
off my neck! 

Humane liberalism goes to work radically. If you want to be or 
have anything special even in one point, if you want to retain for 
yourself even one prerogative above others, to claim even one right 
that is not a ‘general right of man’, you are an egoist. 

Very good! I do not want to have or be anything special above 
others, I do not want to claim any prerogative against them, but - I 
do not measure myself by others either, and do not want to have any 
right whatever. I want to be all and have all that I can be and have. 
Whether others are and have anything similar , what do I care? The 
equal, the same, they can neither be nor have. I cause no detriment 
to them, as I cause no detriment to the rock by being ‘ahead of it’ 
in having motion. If they could have it, they would have it. 

To cause other men no detriment is the point of the demand to 
possess no prerogative; to renounce all ‘being ahead’, the strictest 
theory of renunciation. One is not to count himself as ‘anything spe- 
cial’, such as for example a Jew or a Christian. Well, I do not count 
myself as anything special, but as unique. Doubtless I have similarity 
with others; yet that holds good only for comparison or reflection; in 
fact I am incomparable, unique. My flesh is not their flesh, my mind 
is not their mind. If you bring them under the generalities ‘flesh, 
mind’, those are your thoughts , which have nothing to do with my 
flesh, my mind, and can least of all issue a ‘call’ to mine. 

I do not want to recognize or respect in you any thing, neither the 
proprietor nor the ragamuffin, nor even the man, but to use you. In 
salt I find that it makes food palatable to me, therefore I dissolve it; 


Men of the old time and the new 

in the fish I recognize an aliment, therefore I eat it; in you I discover 
the gift of making my life agreeable, therefore I choose you as a 
companion. Or, in salt I study crystallization, in the fish animality, in 
you men, etc. But to me you are only what you are for me - namely, 
my object; and, because my object, therefore my property. 

In humane liberalism ragamuffinhood is completed. We must first 
come down to the most ragamuffin -like, most poverty-stricken con- 
dition if we want to arrive at ownness [. Eigenheit ], for we must strip off 
everything alien. But nothing seems more ragamuffin-like than 
naked - man. 

It is more than ragamuffinhood, however, when I throw away man 
too because I feel that he too is alien to me and that I can make no 
pretensions on that basis. This is no longer mere ragamuffinhood: 
because even the last rag has fallen off, here stands real nakedness, 
denudation of everything alien. The ragamuffin has stripped off raga- 
muffinhood itself, and therewith has ceased to be what he was, a 

I am no longer a ragamuffin, but have been one. 

Up to this time the discord could not come to an outbreak, because 
properly there is current only a quarrel of modern liberals with anti- 
quated liberals, a quarrel of those who understand ‘freedom’ in a 
small measure and those who want the ‘full measure’ of freedom; of 
the moderate and measureless , therefore. Everything turns on the ques- 
tion, how free must man be? That man must be free, in this all believe; 
therefore all are liberal too. But the un-man [Unmensch] who is some- 
where in every individual, how is he blocked? How can it be arranged 
not to leave the un-man free at the same time with man? 

Liberalism as a whole has a deadly enemy, an invincible opposite, 
as God has the devil: by the side of man stands always the un-man, 
the individual, the egoist. State, society, humanity, do not master this 

Humane liberalism has undertaken the task of showing the other 
liberals that they still do not want ‘freedom’. 

If the other liberals had before their eyes only isolated egoism and 
were for the most part blind, radical liberalism has against it egoism 
‘in mass’, throws among the masses all who do not make the cause of 
freedom their own as it does, so that now man and un-man rigorously 
separated, stand over against each other as enemies, namely, the 


The Ego and Its Own 

‘masses’ and ‘criticism’; 0 namely, ‘free, human criticism’, as it is 
called/ in opposition to crude, that is, religious criticism. 

Criticism expresses the hope that it will be victorious over all the 
masses and ‘give them a general certificate of insolvency’/ So it means 
finally to make itself out in the right, and to represent all quarrels of 
the ‘faint-hearted and timorous’ as an egoistic stubbornness [Rechthab- 
erei\, as pettiness, paltriness. All wrangling loses significance, and 
petty dissensions are given up, because in criticism a common enemy 
enters the field. ‘You are egoists altogether, one no better than 
another!’ Now the egoists stand together against criticism. 

Really the egoists? No, they fight against criticism precisely because 
it accuses them of egoism; they do not plead guilty of egoism. Accord- 
ingly criticism and the masses stand on the same basis: both fight 
against egoism, both repudiate it for themselves and charge it to each 

Criticism and the masses pursue the same goal, freedom from 
egoism, and wrangle only over which of them approaches nearest to 
the goal or even attains it. 

The Jews, the Christians, the absolutists, the men of darkness and 
men of light, politicians, communists - all, in short - hold the 
reproach of egoism far from them; and, as criticism brings against 
them this reproach in plain terms and in the most extended sense, 
all justify themselves against the accusation of egoism, and combat - 
egoism, the same enemy with whom criticism wages war. 

Both, criticism and masses, are enemies of egoists, and both seek to 
liberate themselves from egoism, as well by clearing or whitewashing 
themselves as by ascribing it to the opposite party. 

The critic is the true ‘spokesman of the masses’ who gives them 
the ‘simple concept and the phrase’ of egoism, while the spokesmen 
to whom the triumph is denied were only bunglers/ He is their prince 
and general in the war against egoism for freedom; what he fights 
against they fight against. But at the same time he is their enemy too, 

“ Bruno Bauer (anonymously), review of H. F. W. Hinrichs, Politische Vorlesungett, 2 
volumes (Halle, 1843), in Allgemeine Literaturzeitung, no. 5 (April, 1844), pp. 23-5. 

* Bauer, Die Jfudenfrage, p. 114. 

' Konrad Melchior Hirzel, 153 ‘Korrespondenz aus Zurich’, Allgemeine Literaturzeitung, 
no. 5 (April, 1844), p. 15. 

d Bruno Bauer (anonymously), review 0 f H . F . W. Hinrichs, Politische Vorlesungen, 2 
volumes (Halle, 1843), in Allgemeine Literaturzeitung, no. 5 (April, 1844), P- 2 4- 


Men of the old time and the new 

only not the enemy before them, but the friendly enemy who wields 
the knout behind the timorous to force courage into them. 

Hereby the opposition of criticism and the masses is reduced to 
the following contradiction: ‘You are egoists!’ ‘No, we are not!’ ‘I 
will prove it to you!’ ‘You shall have our justification!’ 

Let us then take both for what they give themselves out for, non- 
egoists, and what they take each other for, egoists. They are egoists 
and are not. 

Properly criticism says: You must liberate your ego from all 
limitedness so entirely that it becomes a human ego. I say: Liberate 
yourself as far as you can, and you have done your part; for it is not 
given to every one to break through all limits, or, more expressively: 
not to every one is that a limit which is a limit for the rest. Conse- 
quently, do not tire yourself with toiling at the limits of others; enough 
if you tear down yours. Who has ever succeeded in tearing down 
even one limit for all men ? Are not countless persons today, as at all 
times, running about with all the ‘limitations of humanity’? He who 
overturns one of his limits may have shown others the way and the 
means; the overturning of their limits remains their affair. Nobody 
does anything else either. To demand of people that they become 
wholly men is to call on them to cast down all human limits. That is 
impossible, because man has no limits. I have some indeed, but then 
it is only mine that concern me at all, and only they can be overcome 
by me. A human ego I cannot become, just because I am I and not 
merely man. 

Yet let us still see whether criticism has not taught us something 
that we can take to heart! I am not free if I am not without interests, 
not man if I am not disinterested? Well, even if it makes little differ- 
ence to me to be free or man, yet I do not want to leave unused any 
occasion to realize myself or make myself count. Criticism offers me 
this occasion by the teaching that, if anything plants itself firmly in 
me, and becomes indissoluble, I become its prisoner and servant, a 
possessed man. An interest, be it for what it may, has kidnapped a 
slave in me if I cannot get away from it, and is no longer my property, 
but I am its. Let us therefore accept criticism’s lesson to let no part 
of our property become stable, and to feel comfortable only in - 
dissolving it. 

So, if criticism says: You are man only when you are restlessly 
criticizing and dissolving! Then we say: Man I am without that, and 


The Ego and Its Own 

I am I likewise; therefore I want only to be careful to secure my 
property to myself; and, in order to secure it, I continually take it 
back into myself, annihilate in it every movement toward indepen- 
dence, and swallow it before it can fix itself and become a ‘fixed idea’ 
or a ‘mania’. 

But I do that not for the sake of my ‘human calling’, but because 
I call myself to it. I do not strut about dissolving everything that it is 
possible for a man to dissolve, and, for example, while not yet ten 
years old I do not criticize the nonsense of the Commandments, but 
I am man all the same, and act humanly in just this, that I still leave 
them uncriticized. In short, I have no calling, and follow none, not 
even that to be a man. 

Do I now reject what liberalism has won in its various exertions? 
Far be the day that anything won should be lost! Only, after ‘man’ 
has become free through liberalism, I turn my gaze back upon myself 
and confess to myself openly: What man seems to have gained, / 
alone have gained. 

Man is free when ‘man is to man the supreme being’. So it belongs 
to the completion of liberalism that every other supreme being be 
annulled, theology overturned by anthropology, God and his grace 
laughed down, ‘atheism’ universal. 

The egoism of property has given up the last that it had to give 
when even the ‘My God’ has become senseless; for God exists only 
when he has at heart the individual’s welfare, as the latter seeks his 
welfare in him. 

Political liberalism abolished the inequality of masters and servants: 
it made people masterless , anarchic. The master was now removed 
from the individual, the ‘egoist’, to become a ghost - the law or the 
state. Social liberalism abolishes the inequality of possession, of the 
poor and rich, and makes people possessionless or propertyless. Prop- 
erty is withdrawn from the individual and surrendered to ghostly 
society. Humane liberalism makes people godless, atheistic. Therefore 
the individual’s God, ‘My God’, must be put an end to. Now mas- 
terlessness is indeed at the same time freedom from service, pos- 
sessionlessness at the same time freedom from care, and godlessness 
at the same time freedom from prejudice: for with the master the 
servant falls away; with possession, the care about it; with the firmly 
rooted God, prejudice. But, since the master rises again as state, the 
servant appears again as subject; since possession becomes the prop- 


Men of the old time and the new 

erty of society, care is begotten anew as labour; and, since God as 
man becomes a prejudice, there arises a new faith, faith in humanity 
or liberty. For the individual’s God, the God of all, namely, ‘man’, 
is now exalted; ‘for it is the highest thing in us all to be man’. But, 
as nobody can become entirely what the idea ‘man’ imports, man 
remains to the individual a lofty other world, an unattained supreme 
being, a God. But at the same time this is the ‘true God’, because 
he is fully adequate to us - namely, our own ‘ self ; we ourselves, but 
separated from us and lifted above us. 

Postscript 154 

The foregoing review of ‘free human criticism’ was written in bits 
immediately after the appearance of the books in question, as was 
also that which elsewhere refers to writings of this tendency, and I 
did little more than bring together the fragments. But criticism is 
restlessly pressing forward, and thereby makes it necessary for me to 
come back to it once more, now that my book is finished, and insert 
this concluding note. 

I have before me the latest (eighth) number of the AllgemeineL itera- 
turzeitung of Bruno Bauer. 

There again ‘the general interests of society’ stand at the top. But 
criticism has reflected, and given this ‘society’ a specification by which 
it is discriminated from a form which previously had still been con- 
fused with it: the ‘state’, in former passages still celebrated as ‘free 
state’, is quite given up because it can in no way fulfil the task of 
‘human society’. Criticism only ‘saw itself compelled to identify for 
a moment human and political affairs’ in 1842; but now it has found 
that the state, even as ‘free state’, is not human society, or, as it could 
likewise say, that the people is not ‘man’. We saw how it got through 
with theology and showed clearly that God sinks into dust before 
man; we see it now come to a clearance with politics in the same 
way, and show that before man peoples and nationalities fall; so we 
see how it has its explanation with church and state, declaring them 
both unhuman, and we shall see - for it betrays this to us already - 
how it can also give proof that before man the ‘masses’, which it even 
calls a ‘spiritual being’, appear worthless. And how should the lesser 
‘spiritual beings’ be able to maintain themselves before the supreme 
spirit? ‘Man’ casts down the false idols. 


The Ego and Its Own 

So what the critic has in view for the present is the scrutiny of the 
‘masses’, which he will place before ‘man’ in order to combat them 
from the standpoint of man. ‘What is now the object of criticism?’ 
‘The masses, a spiritual being!’ These the critic will ‘learn to know’, 
and will find that they are in contradiction with man; he will demon- 
strate that they are unhuman, and will succeed just as well in this 
demonstration as in the former ones, that the divine and the national, 
or the concerns of church and of state, were the unhuman. 

The masses are defined as ‘the most significant product of the 
revolution, as the deceived multitude which the illusions of political 
Enlightenment, and in general the entire Enlightenment movement 
of the eighteenth century, have given over to boundless disgruntle- 
ment’. The revolution satisfied some by its result, and left others 
unsatisfied; the satisfied part is the commonalty (bourgeoisie, philis- 
tines, etc.), the unsatisfied is the - masses. Does not the critic, so 
placed, himself belong to the ‘masses’? 

But the unsatisfied are still in great uncertainty, and their discon- 
tent utters itself only in a ‘boundless disgruntlement’. This the like- 
wise unsatisfied critic now wants to master: he cannot want and attain 
more than to bring that ‘spiritual being’, the masses, out of its dis- 
gruntlement, and to ‘uplift’ those who were only disgruntled, to give 
them the right attitude toward those results of the revolution which 
are to be overcome; - he can become the head of the masses, their 
decided spokesman. Therefore he wants also to ‘abolish the deep 
chasm which parts him from the multitude’. From those who want 
to ‘uplift the lower classes of the people’ he is distinguished by want- 
ing to deliver from ‘disgruntlement’, not merely these, but himself 

But assuredly his consciousness does not deceive him either, when 
he takes the masses to be the ‘natural opponents of theory’, and 
foresees that, ‘the more this theory shall develop itself, so much the 
more will it make the masses compact’. For the critic cannot enlighten 
or satisfy the masses with his presupposition , man. If over against the 
commonalty they are only the ‘lower classes of the people’, politically 
insignificant masses, over against ‘man’ they must still more be mere 
‘masses’, humanly insignificant - yes, unhuman - masses, or a multi- 
tude of un-men. 

The critic clears away everything human; and, starling from the 
presupposition that the human is the true, he works against himself, 
denying it wherever it had been hitherto found. He proves only that 


Men of the old time and the new 

the human is to be found nowhere except in his head, but the unhu- 
man everywhere. The unhuman is the real, the extant on all hands, 
and by the proof that it is ‘not human’ the critic only enunciates 
plainly the tautological sentence that it is the unhuman. 

But what if the unhuman, turning its back on itself with resolute 
heart, should at the same time turn away from the disturbing critic 
and leave him standing, untouched and unstung by his remonstrance? 
‘You call me the unhuman’, it might say to him, ‘and so I really am - 
for you; but I am so only because you bring me into opposition to 
the human, and I could despise myself only so long as I let myself 
be hypnotized into this opposition. I was contemptible because I 
sought my “better self” outside me; I was the unhuman because I 
dreamed of the “human”; I resembled the pious who hunger for 
their “true self” and always remain “poor sinners”; I thought of 
myself only in comparison to another; enough, I was not all in all, 
was not - unique. But now I cease to appear to myself as the unhuman, 
cease to measure myself and let myself be measured by man, cease 
to recognize anything above me: consequently - farewell, humane 
critic! I only have been the unhuman, am it now no longer, but am 
the unique, yes, to your loathing, the egoistic; yet not the egoistic 
as it lets itself be measured by the human, humane, and unselfish, 
but the egoistic as the - unique.’ 

We have to pay attention to still another sentence of the same 
number. ‘Criticism sets up no dogmas, and wants to learn to know 
nothing but things .’ 155 

The critic is afraid of becoming ‘dogmatic’ or setting up dogmas. 
Of course: why, thereby he would become the opposite of the critic - 
the dogmatist; he would now become bad, as he is good as critic, or 
would become from an unselfish man an egoist. ‘Of all things, no 
dogma!’ This is his - dogma. For the critic remains on one and the 
same ground with the dogmatist, that of thoughts. Like the latter he 
always starts from a thought, but varies in this, that he never ceases 
to keep the principle-thought in the process of thinking , and so does 
not let it become stable. He only asserts the thought-process against 
the thought-faith, the progress of thinking against stationariness in 
it. From criticism no thought is safe, since criticism is thought or the 
thinking mind itself. 

Therefore I repeat that the religious world - and this is the world 
of thought - reaches its completion in criticism, where thinking 
extends its encroachments over every thought, no one of which may 

The Ego and Its Own 

‘egoistically’ establish itself. Where would the ‘purity of criticism’, 
the purity of thinking, be left if even one thought escaped the process 
of thinking? This explains the fact that the critic has even begun 
already to gibe gently here and there at the thought of man, of 
humanity and humaneness, because he suspects that here a thought 
is approaching dogmatic fixity. But yet he cannot decompose this 
thought until he has found a - ‘higher’ in which it dissolves; for he 
moves only - in thoughts. This higher thought might be enunciated 
as that of the movement or process of thinking itself, as the thought 
of thinking or of criticism, for example. 

Freedom of thinking has in fact become complete hereby, freedom 
of mind celebrates its triumph: for the individual, ‘egoistic’ thoughts 
have lost their dogmatic truculence. There is nothing left but the - 
dogma of free thinking or of criticism. 

Against everything that belongs to the world of thought, criticism 
is in the right, that is, in might: it is the victor. Criticism, and criticism 
alone, is ‘up to date’. From the standpoint of thought there is no 
power capable of being more than a match for criticism’s, and it is a 
pleasure to see how easily and playfully this dragon swallows all other 
serpents of thought. Each serpent twists, to be sure, but criticism 
crushes it in all its ‘turns’. 

I am no opponent of criticism. I am no dogmatist, and do not feel 
myself touched by the critic’s tooth with which he tears the dogmatist 
to pieces. If I were a ‘dogmatist’, I should place at the head a dogma, 
a thought, an idea, a principle, and should complete this as a ‘syste- 
matise, spinning it out to a system, a structure of thought. Conversely, 
if I were a critic, an opponent of the dogmatist, I should carry on the 
fight of free thinking against the enthralling thought, I should defend 
thinking against what was thought. But I am neither the champion 
of a thought nor the champion of thinking; for ‘I’, from whom I start, 
am not a thought, nor do I consist in thinking. Against me, the 
unnameable, the realm of thoughts, thinking, and mind is shattered. 

Criticism is the possessed man’s fight against possession as such, 
against all possession: a fight which is founded in the consciousness 
that everywhere possession, or, as the critic calls it, a religious and 
theological attitude, is extant. He knows that people stand in a 
religious or believing attitude not only toward God, but toward other 
ideas as well, like right, the state, law; he recognizes possession in 
all places. So he wants to break up thoughts by thinking; but I say, 


Men of the old time and the new 

only thoughtlessness really saves me from thoughts. It is not thinking, 
but my thoughtlessness, or I the unthinkable, incomprehensible, that 
frees me from possession. 

A jerk does me the service of the most anxious thinking, a stretch- 
ing of the limbs shakes off the torment of thoughts, a leap upward 
hurls from my breast the nightmare of the religious world, a jubilant 
whoop throws off year-long burdens. But the monstrous significance 
of unthinking jubilation could not be recognized in the long night of 
thinking and believing. 

‘What clumsiness and frivolity, to want to solve the most difficult 
problems, acquit yourself of the most comprehensive tasks, by a 
breaking off]' 1 

But have you tasks if you do not set them to yourself? So long as 
you set them, you will not give them up, and I certainly do not care 
if you think, and thinking, create a thousand thoughts. But you who 
have set the tasks, are you not to be able to upset them again? Must 
you be bound to these tasks, and must they become absolute tasks? 

To cite only one thing, the government has been disparaged on 
account of its resorting to forcible means against thoughts, interfering 
against the press by means of the police power of the censorship, 
and making a personal fight out of a literary one. As if it were solely 
a matter of thoughts, and as if one’s attitude toward thoughts must 
be unselfish, self-denying, and self-sacrificing! Do not those thoughts 
attack the governing parties themselves, and so call out egoism? And 
do the thinkers not set before the attacked ones the religious demand 
to reverence the power of thought, of ideas? They are to succumb 
voluntarily and resignedly, because the divine power of thought, 
Minerva , 156 fights on their enemies’ side. Why, that would be an act 
of possession, a religious sacrifice. To be sure, the governing parties 
are themselves held fast in a religious bias, and follow the leading 
power of an idea or a faith; but they are at the same time unconfessed 
egoists, and right here, against the enemy, their pent-up egoism 
breaks loose: possessed in their faith, they are at the same time 
unpossessed by their opponents’ faith; they are egoists toward this. 
If one wants to make them a reproach, it could only be the converse, 
namely, that they are possessed by their ideas. 

Against thoughts no egoistic power is to appear, no police power 
and the like. So the believers in thinking believe. But thinking and 
its thoughts are not sacred to me , and I defend my skin against them 


The Ego and Its Own 

as against other things. That may be an unreasonable defence; but, 
if I am in duty bound to reason, then I, like Abraham , 157 must sacrifice 
my dearest to it! 

In the kingdom of thought, which, like that of faith, is the kingdom 
of heaven, every one is assuredly wrong who uses unthinking force, 
just as every one is wrong who in the kingdom of love behaves unlov- 
ingly, or, although he is a Christian and therefore lives in the kingdom 
of love, yet acts un-Christianly; in these kingdoms, to which he sup- 
poses himself to belong though he nevertheless throws off their laws, 
he is a ‘sinner’ or ‘egoist’. But it is only when he becomes a criminal 
against these kingdoms that he can throw off their dominion. 

Here too the result is this, that the fight of the thinkers against 
the government is indeed in the right, namely, in might, so far as it 
is carried on against the government’s thoughts (the government is 
dumb, and does not succeed in making any literary rejoinder to speak 
of), but is, on the other hand, in the wrong, namely, in impotence, 
so far as it does not succeed in bringing into the field anything but 
thoughts against a personal power (the egoistic power stops the 
mouths of the thinkers). The theoretical fight cannot complete the 
victory, and the sacred power of thought succumbs to the might of 
egoism. Only the egoistic fight, the fight of egoists on both sides, 
clears up everything. 

This last now, to make thinking an affair of egoistic option, an 
affair of the single person [des Einzigen ], a mere pastime or hobby as 
it were, and to take from it the importance of ‘being the last decisive 
power’; this degradation and desecration of thinking; this equalization 
of the unthinking and thoughtful ego; this clumsy but real ‘equality’ - 
criticism is not able to produce, because it itself is only the priest of 
thinking, and sees nothing beyond thinking but - the deluge. 

Criticism does indeed affirm, that free criticism may overcome the 
state, but at the same time it defends itself against the reproach 
which is laid upon it by the state government, that it is ‘self-will and 
impudence’; it thinks, then, that ‘self-will and impudence’ may not 
overcome, it alone may. The truth is rather the reverse: the state can 
be really overcome only by impudent self-will. 

It may now, to conclude with this, be clear that in the critic’s new 
change of front he has not transf ormed himself, but only ‘made good 
an oversight’, ‘disentangled a subject’, and is saying too much when 
he speaks of ‘criticism criticizing itself’; it, or rather he, has only 


Men of the old time and the new 

criticized its ‘oversight’ and cleared it of its ‘inconsistencies’. If he 
wanted to criticize criticism, he would have to look and see if there 
was anything in its presupposition. 

I on my part start from a presupposition in presupposing myself 
but my presupposition does not struggle for its perfection like ‘man 
struggling for his perfection’, but only serves me to enjoy it and 
consume it. I consume my presupposition, and nothing else, and 
exist only in consuming it. But that presupposition is therefore not a 
presupposition at all: for, as I am the unique, I know nothing of the 
duality of a presupposing and a presupposed ego (an ‘incomplete’ 
and a ‘complete’ ego or man); but this, that I consume myself, means 
only that I am. I do not presuppose myself, because I am every 
moment just positing or creating myself, and am I only by being not 
presupposed but posited, and, again, posited only in the moment 
when I posit myself; that is, I am creator and creature [Schopfer und 
Geschdpf\ in one. 

If the presuppositions that have hitherto been current are to melt 
away in a full dissolution, they must not be dissolved into a higher 
presupposition again - a thought, or thinking itself, criticism. For 
that dissolution is to be for my good; otherwise it would belong only 
in the series of the innumerable dissolutions which, in favour of 
others (as this very man, God, the state, pure morality, etc.), declared 
old truths to be untruths and did away with long-fostered 


At the entrance of the modern time stands the ‘God-man’. At its exit 
will only the God in the God-man evaporate? And can the God-man 
really die if only the God in him dies? They did not think of this 
question, and thought they were finished when in our days they 
brought to a victorious end the work of the Enlightenment, the van- 
quishing of God: they did not notice that man has killed God in 
order to become now - ‘ sole God on high’. The other world outside us 
is indeed brushed away, and the great undertaking of the men of the 
Enlightenment completed; but the other world in us has become a 
new heaven and calls us forth to renewed heaven-storming: God has 
had to give place, yet not to us, but to - man. How can you believe 
that the God-man is dead before the man in him, besides the God, 
is dead? 

Ownness [Die Eigenheit] 

‘Does not the spirit thirst for freedom?’ - Alas, not my spirit alone, 
my body too thirsts for it hourly! When before the odorous castle- 
kitchen my nose tells my palate of the savoury dishes that are being 
prepared therein, it feels a fearful pining at its dry bread; when my 
eyes tell the hardened back about soft down on which one may lie 
more delightfully than on its compressed straw, a suppressed rage 
seizes it; when - but let us not follow the pains further. - And you 
call that a longing for freedom? What do you want to become free 
from, then? From your hardtack and your straw bed? Then throw 
them away! - But that seems not to serve you: you want rather to 
have the freedom to enjoy delicious foods and downy beds. Are men 
to give you this ‘freedom’ - are they to permit it to you? You do not 
hope that from their philanthropy, because you know they all think 
like - you: each is the nearest to himself! How, therefore, do you 
mean to come to the enjoyment of those foods and beds? Evidently 
not otherwise than in making them your property! 

If you think it over rightly, you do not want the freedom to have 
all these fine things, for with this freedom you still do not have them; 
you want really to have them, to call them yours and possess them as 
your property. Of what use is a freedom to you, indeed, if it brings in 
nothing? And, if you became free from everything, you would no 
longer have anything; for freedom is empty of substance. Whoever 
knows not how to make use of it, for him it has no value, this useless 
permission; but how I make use of it depends on my personality 

The Ego and Its Own 

I have no objection to freedom, but I wish more than freedom 
for you: you should not merely he rid of what you do not want; you 
should not only be a ‘freeman’, you should be an ‘owner [Eigner]' 

Free - from what? Oh! What is there that cannot be shaken 
off? The yoke of serfdom, of sovereignty, of aristocracy and princes, 
the dominion of the desires and passions; yes, even the dominion 
of one’s own will, of self-will, for the completest self-denial is 
nothing but freedom - freedom, namely, from self-determination, 
from one’s own self. And the craving for freedom as for something 
absolute, worthy of every praise, deprived us of ownness: it created 
self-denial. However, the freer I become, the more compulsion 
piles up before my eyes; and the more impotent I feel myself. 
The unfree son of the wilderness does not yet feel anything of 
all the limits that crowd a civilized man: he seems to himself freer 
than this latter. In the measure that I conquer freedom for myself 
I create for myself new bounds and new tasks: if I have invented 
railways, I feel myself weak again because I cannot yet sail through 
the skies like the bird; and, if I have solved a problem whose 
obscurity disturbed my mind, at once there await me innumerable 
others, whose perplexities impede my progress, dim my free gaze, 
make the limits of my freedom painfully sensible to me. ‘Now that 
you have become free from sin, you have become servants of 
righteousness.’ 0 Republicans in their broad freedom, do they not 
become servants of the law? How true Christian hearts at all times 
longed to ‘become free’, how they pined to see themselves delivered 
from the ‘bonds of this earth-life’! They looked out toward the 
land of freedom. (‘The Jerusalem that is above is the freewoman; 
she is the mother of us all.’ 4 ) 

Being free from anything - means only being clear or rid. ‘He 
is free from headache’ is equal to ‘he is rid of it’. ‘He is free 
from this prejudice’ is equal to ‘he has never conceived it’ or ‘he 
has got rid of it’. In ‘less’ we complete the freedom recommended 
by Christianity, in sinless, godless, moralityless, etc. 

Freedom is the doctrine of Christianity. ‘Ye, dear brethren, are 
called to freedom.^ ‘So speak and so do, as those who are to be 
judged by the law of freedom.’'* 

* Romans 6:18. * Galatians 4:26. f 1 Peter 2:16. d James 2:12. 



Must we then, because freedom betrays itself as a Christian ideal, 
give it up? No, nothing is to be lost, freedom no more than the rest; 
but it is to become our own, and in the form of freedom it cannot. 

What a difference between freedom and ownness! One can get rid 
of a great many things, one yet does not get rid of all; one becomes 
free from much, not from everything. Inwardly one may be free in 
spite of the condition of slavery, although, too, it is again only from 
all sorts of things, not from everything; but from the whip, the domi- 
neering temper, of the master, one does not as slave become free. 
‘Freedom lives only in the realm of dreams!’ Ownness, on the con- 
trary, is my whole being and existence, it is I myself. I am free from 
what I am rid of, owner of what I have in my power or what I control. 
My own I am at all times and under all circumstances, if I know how 
to have myself and do not throw myself away on others. To be free 
is something that I cannot truly will, because I cannot make it, cannot 
create it: I can only wish it and - aspire toward it, for it remains an 
ideal, a spook. The fetters of reality cut the sharpest welts in my flesh 
every moment. But my own I remain. Given up as serf to a master, I 
think only of myself and my advantage; his blows strike me indeed, 
I am not free from them; but I endure them only for my benefit, perhaps 
in order to deceive him and make him secure by the semblance of 
patience, or, again, not to draw worse upon myself by obstinate resist- 
ance. But, as I keep my eye on myself and my selfishness, I take by 
the forelock the first good opportunity to trample the slaveholder into 
the dust. That I then become free from him and his whip is only the 
consequence of my antecedent egoism. Here one perhaps says I was 
‘free’ even in the condition of slavery - namely, ‘intrinsically’ or 
‘inwardly’. But ‘intrinsically free’ is not ‘really free’, and ‘inwardly’ is 
not ‘outwardly’. I was own, on the other hand, my own, altogether, 
inwardly and outwardly. Under the dominion of a cruel master my 
body is not ‘free’ from torments and lashes; but it is my bones that 
moan under the torture, my fibres that quiver under the blows, and 
I moan because my body moans. That I sigh and shiver proves that 
I have not yet lost myself, that I am still my own. My leg is not ‘free’ 
from the master’s stick, but it is my leg and is inseparable. Let him 
tear it off me and look and see if he still has my leg! He retains in 
his hand nothing but the - corpse of my leg, which is as little my leg 
as a dead dog is still a dog: a dog has a pulsating heart, a so-called 
dead dog has none and is therefore no longer a dog. 


The Ego and Its Own 

If one opines that a slave may yet be inwardly free, he says in fact 
only the most indisputable and trivial thing. For who is going to assert 
that any man is wholly without freedom? If I am an eye -servant, can 
I therefore not be free from innumerable things, from faith in Zeus, 
from the desire for fame, and the like? Why then should not a 
whipped slave also be able to be inwardly free from un-Christian 
sentiments, from hatred of his enemy, etc.? He then has ‘Christian 
freedom’, is rid of the un-Christian; but has he absolute freedom, 
freedom from everything, as from the Christian delusion, or from 
bodily pain? 

In the meantime, all this seems to be said more against names than 
against the thing. But is the name indifferent, and has not a word, a 
shibboleth, always inspired and - fooled men? Yet between freedom 
and ownness there lies still a deeper chasm than the mere difference 
of the words. 

All the world desires freedom, all long for its reign to come. Oh, 
enchantingly beautiful dream of a blooming ‘reign of freedom’, a 
‘free human race’ - who has not dreamed it? So men shall become 
free, entirely free, free from all constraint! From all constraint, really 
from all? Are they never to put constraint on themselves any more? 
‘Oh yes, that of course; don’t you see, that is no constraint at all?’ 
Well, then at any rate they are to become free from religious faith, 
from the strict duties of morality, from the inexorability of the law, 
from - ‘What a fearful misunderstanding!’ Well, what are they to be 
free from then, and what not? 

The lovely dream is dissipated; awakened, one rubs his half- 
opened eyes and stares at the prosaic questioner. ‘What ought men 
to be free from?’ - From blind credulity, cries one. What’s that? 
exclaims another, all faith is blind credulity; they must become free 
from all faith. No, no, for God’s sake - inveighs the first again - do 
not cast all faith from you, else the power of brutality breaks in. We 
must have the republic - a third makes himself heard - and become - 
free from all commanding lords. There is no help in that, says a 
fourth: we only get a new lord then, a ‘dominant majority’; let us 
rather free ourselves from this dreadful inequality. - O, hapless 
equality, already I hear your plebeian roar again! How I had dreamed 
so beautifully just now of a paradise of freedom , and what - impudence 
and licentiousness now raises its wild clamour! Thus the first laments, 
and gets on his feet to grasp the sword against ‘unmeasured freedom’. 



Soon we no longer hear anything but the clashing of the swords of 
the disagreeing dreamers of freedom. 

What the craving for freedom has always come to has been the 
desire for a particular freedom, such as freedom of faith; the believing 
man wanted to be free and independent; of what? Of faith perhaps? 
No! But of the inquisitors of faith. So now ‘political or civil’ freedom. 
The citizen wants to become free not from citizenhood, but from 
bureaucracy, the arbitrariness of princes, and the like. Prince Metter- 
nich 158 once said he had ‘found a way that was adapted to guide men 
in the path of genuine freedom for all the future’. The comte de 
Provence 159 ran away from France precisely at the time when that 
country was preparing the ‘reign of freedom’, and said: ‘My imprison- 
ment had become intolerable to me; I had only one passion, the 
desire for freedom ; I thought only of it.’ 

The craving for a particular freedom always includes the purpose 
of a new dominion , as it was with the revolution, which indeed ‘could 
give its defenders the uplifting feeling that they were fighting for 
freedom’, but in truth only because they were after a particular free- 
dom, therefore a new dominion , the ‘dominion of the law’. 

Freedom you all want, you want freedom. Why then do you haggle 
over a more or less? Freedom can only be the whole of freedom; a 
piece of freedom is not freedom. You despair of the possibility of 
obtaining the whole of freedom, freedom from everything - yes, you 
consider it insanity even to wish this? - Well, then leave off chasing 
after the phantom, and spend your pains on something better than 
the - unattainable. 

‘Ah, but there is nothing better than freedom!’ 

What have you then when you have freedom - for I will not speak 
here of your piecemeal bits of freedom - complete freedom? Then 
you are rid of everything that embarrasses you, everything, and there 
is probably nothing that does not once in your life embarrass you 
and cause you inconvenience. And for whose sake, then, did you 
want to be rid of it? Doubtless for your sake, because it is in your way! 
But, if something were not inconvenient to you; if, on the contrary, 
it were quite to your mind (such as the gently but irresistibly command- 
ing look of your loved one) - then you would not want to be rid of 
it and free from it. Why not? For your sake again! So you tdkz yourselves 
as measure and judge over all. You gladly let freedom go when 
unfreedom, the ‘sweet service of love’, suits you ; and you take up 


The Ego and Its Own 

your freedom again on occasion when it begins to suit you better - 
that is, supposing, which is not the point here, that you are not afraid 
of such a ‘Repeal of the Union’ for other (perhaps religious) reasons. 

Why will you not take courage now to make yourselves really the 
central point and the main thing altogether? Why grasp in the air at 
freedom, your dream? Are you your dream? Do not begin by inquiring 
of your dreams, your notions, your thoughts, for that is all ‘hollow 
theory’. Ask yourselves and ask after yourselves - that is practical , 
and you know you want very much to be ‘practical’. But there the 
one hearkens what his God (of course what he thinks of at the name 
God is his God) may be going to say to it, and another what his 
moral feelings, his conscience, his feeling of duty, may determine 
about it, and a third calculates what people will think of it - and, 
when each has thus asked his Lord God (people are a Lord God 
just as good as, indeed, even more compact than, the other-worldly 
and imaginary one: vox populi, vox dei 160 ), then he accommodates 
himself to his Lord’s will and listens no more at all for what he himself 
would like to say and decide. 

Therefore turn to yourselves rather than to your gods or idols. 
Bring out from yourselves what is in you, bring it to the light, bring 
yourselves to revelation. 

How one acts only from himself, and asks after nothing further, 
the Christians have realized in the notion ‘God’. He acts ‘as it pleases 
him’. And foolish man, who could do just so, is to act as it ‘pleases 
God’ instead. - If it is said that even God proceeds according to 
eternal laws, that too fits me, since I too cannot get out of my skin, 
but have my law in my whole nature, in myself. 

But one needs only admonish you of yourselves to bring you to 
despair at once. ‘What am I?’ each of you asks himself. An abyss of 
lawless and unregulated impulses, desires, wishes, passions, a chaos 
without light or guiding star! How am I to obtain a correct answer, 
if, without regard to God’s commandments or to the duties which 
morality prescribes, without regard to the voice of reason, which in 
the course of history, after bitter experiences, has exalted the best 
and most reasonable thing into law, I simply appeal to myself? My 
passion would advise me to do the most senseless thing possible. - 
Thus each deems himself the - devil ; for, if, so far as he is uncon- 
cerned about religion, he only deemed himself a beast, he would 
easily find that the beast, which does follow only its impulse (as it 



were, its advice), does not advise and impel itself to do the ‘most 
senseless’ things, but takes very correct steps. But the habit of the 
religious way of thinking has biased our mind so grievously that we 
are - terrified at ourselves in our nakedness and naturalness; it has 
degraded us so that we deem ourselves depraved by nature, born 
devils. Of course it comes into your head at once that your calling 
requires you to do the ‘good’, the moral, the right. Now, if you ask 
yourselves what is to be done, how can the right voice sound forth 
from you, the voice which points the way of the good, the right, the 
true? What concord have God and Belial ? 161 

But what would you think if one answered you by saying: ‘That 
one is to listen to God, conscience, duties, laws, and so forth, is 
nonsense with which people have stuffed your head and heart and 
made you crazy’? And if he asked you how it is that you know so 
surely that the voice of nature is a seducer? And if he even demanded 
of you to turn the thing about and actually to deem the voice of God 
and conscience to be the devil’s work? There are such graceless men; 
how will you settle them? You cannot appeal to your clerics, parents, 
and good men, for precisely these are designated by them as your 
seducers , as the true seducers and corrupters of youth, who busily sow 
the tares of self-contempt and reverence to God, who fill young 
hearts with mud [ verschldmmen \ and young heads with stupidity 
[ verdummen ]. 

But now those people go on and ask: For whose sake do you care 
about God’s and the other commandments? You surely do not sup- 
pose that this is done merely out of complaisance toward God? No, 
you are doing it - for your sake again. - Here too, therefore, you are 
the main thing, and each must say to himself, I am everything to 
myself and I do everything on my account. If it ever became clear to 
you that God, the commandments, and so on, only harm you, that 
they reduce and ruin you , to a certainty you would throw them from 
you just as the Christians once condemned Apollo 162 or Minerva or 
heathen morality. They did indeed put in the place of these Christ 
and afterward Mary, as well as a Christian morality; but they did this 
for the sake of their souls’ welfare too, therefore out of egoism [Ego- 
ismus\ or ownness [ Eigenheit ]. 

And it was by this egoism, this ownness, that they got rid of the 
old world of gods and became free from it. Ownness created a new 
freedom ; for ownness is the creator of everything, as genius (a definite 


The Ego and Its Own 

ownness), which is always originality, has for a longtime already been 
looked upon as the creator of new productions that have a place in 
the history of the world. 

If your efforts are ever to make ‘freedom’ the issue, then exhaust 
freedom’s demands. Who is it that is to become free? You, I, we. 
Free from what? From everything that is not you, not I, not we. I, 
therefore, am the kernel that is to be delivered from all wrappings 
and - freed from all cramping shells. What is left when I have been 
freed from everything that is not I? Only I, and nothing but I. But 
freedom has nothing to offer to this I himself. As to what is now to 
happen further after I have become free, freedom is silent - as our 
governments, when the prisoner’s time is up, merely let him go, 
thrusting him out into abandonment. 

Now why, if freedom is striven after for love of the I after all, why 
not choose the I himself as beginning, middle, and end? Am I not 
worth more than freedom? Is it not I that make myself free, am not 
I the first? Even unfree, even laid in a thousand fetters, I yet am; and 
I am not, like freedom, extant only in the future and in hopes, but 
even as the most abject of slaves I am - present. 

Think that over well, and decide whether you will place on your 
banner the dream of ‘freedom’ or the resolution of ‘egoism’, of ‘own- 
ness’. ‘Freedom’ awakens your rage against everything that is not you; 
‘egoism’ calls you to joy over yourselves, to self-enjoyment; ‘freedom’ 
is and remains a longing , a romantic plaint, a Christian hope for 
unearthliness and futurity; ‘ownness’ is a reality, which of itself 
removes just so much unfreedom as by barring your own way hinders 
you. What does not disturb you, you will not want to renounce; and, 
if it begins to disturb you, why, you know that ‘you must obey your- 
selves rather than men’! 

Freedom teaches only: Get yourselves rid, relieve yourselves of 
everything burdensome; it does not teach you who you yourselves 
are. Rid, rid! That is its battlecry, get rid even of yourselves, ‘deny 
yourselves’. But ownness calls you back to yourselves, it says ‘come 
to yourself!’ Under the aegis of freedom you get rid of many kinds 
of things, but something new pinches you again: ‘you are rid of the 
Evil One; evil is left’. 163 As own you are really rid of everything , and what 
clings to you you have accepted ; it is your choice and your pleasure. The 
own man is the free-born , the man free to begin with; the free man, on 
the contrary, is only the eleutheromaniac, the dreamer and enthusiast. 



The former is originally free , because he recognizes nothing but 
himself; he does not need to free himself first, because at the start 
he rejects everything outside himself, because he prizes nothing more 
than himself, rates nothing higher, because, in short, he starts from 
himself and ‘comes to himself’. Constrained by childish respect, he is 
nevertheless already working at ‘freeing’ himself from this constraint. 
Ownness works in the little egoist, and procures him the desired - 

Thousands of years of civilization have obscured to you what you 
are, have made you believe you are not egoists but are called to be 
idealists (‘good men’). Shake that off! Do not seek for freedom, which 
does precisely deprive you of yourselves, in ‘self-denial’; but seek for 
yourselves , become egoists, become each of you an almighty ego. Or, 
more clearly: Just recognize yourselves again, just recognize what you 
really are, and let go your hypocritical endeavours, your foolish mania 
to be something else than you are. Hypocritical I call them because 
you have yet remained egoists all these thousands of years, but sleep- 
ing, self-deceiving, crazy egoists, you heautontimorumenoses , you self- 
tormentors. Never yet has a religion been able to dispense with 
‘promises’, whether they referred us to the other world or to this 
(‘long life’, etc.); for man is mercenary and does nothing ‘gratis’. But 
how about that ‘doing the good for the good’s sake’ without prospect 
of reward? As if here too the pay was not contained in the satisfaction 
that it is to afford. Even religion, therefore, is founded on our egoism 
and - exploits it; calculated for our desires , it stifles many others for 
the sake of one. This then gives the phenomenon of cheated egoism, 
where I satisfy, not myself, but one of my desires, such as the impulse 
toward blessedness. Religion promises me the - ‘supreme good’; to 
gain this I no longer regard any other of my desires, and do not slake 
them. - All your doings are unconfessed , secret, covert, and concealed 
egoism. But because they are egoism that you are unwilling to confess 
to yourselves, that you keep secret from yourselves, hence not mani- 
fest and public egoism, consequently unconscious egoism, therefore 
they are not egoism , but thraldom, service, self-renunciation; you are 
egoists, and you are not, since you renounce egoism. Where you 
seem most to be such, you have drawn upon the word ‘egoist’ - 
loathing and contempt. 

I secure my freedom with regard to the world in the degree that I 
make the world my own, ‘gain it and take possession of it’ for myself, 


The Ego and Its Own 

by whatever might, by that of persuasion, of petition, of categorical 
demand, yes, even by hypocrisy, cheating, etc.; for the means that I 
use for it are determined by what I am. If I am weak, I have only 
weak means, like the aforesaid, which yet are good enough for a 
considerable part of the world. Besides, cheating, hypocrisy, lying, 
look worse than they are. Who has not cheated the police, the law? 
Who has not quickly taken on an air of honourable loyalty before the 
sheriff’s officer who meets him, in order to conceal an illegality that 
may have been committed? He who has not done it has simply let 
violence be done to him; he was a weakling from - conscience. I know 
that my freedom is diminished even by not being able to carry out 
my will on another object, be this other something without will, like 
a rock, or something with will, like a government, an individual; I 
deny my ownness when - in presence of another - I give myself up, 
give way, desist, submit; therefore by loyalty , submission . For it is one 
thing when I give up my previous course because it does not lead to 
the goal, and therefore turn out of a wrong road; it is another when 
I yield myself a prisoner. I get around a rock that stands in my way, 
until I have powder enough to blast it; I get around the laws of a 
people, until I have gathered strength to overthrow them. Because I 
cannot grasp the moon, is it therefore to be ‘sacred’ to me, an Astarte? 
If I only could grasp you, I surely would, and, if I only find a means 
to get up to you, you shall not frighten me! You inapprehensible one, 
you shall remain inapprehensible to me only until I have acquired 
the might for apprehension and call you my own ; I do not give myself 
up before you, but only bide my time. Even if for the present I put 
up with my inability to touch you, I yet remember it against you. 

Vigorous men have always done so. When the ‘loyal’ had exalted 
an unsubdued power to be their master and had adored it, when they 
had demanded adoration from all, then there came some such son 
of nature who would not loyally submit, and drove the adored power 
from its inaccessible Olympus. He cried his ‘stand still’ to the rolling 
sun, and made the earth go round; the loyal had to make the best of 
it; he laid his axe to the sacred oaks , 164 and the ‘loyal’ were astonished 
that no heavenly fire consumed him; he threw the Pope off Peter’s 
chair, and the ‘loyal’ had no way to hinder it; he is tearing down the 
divine-right business, and the ‘loyal’ croak in vain, and at last are 



My freedom becomes complete only when it is my - might ; but by 
this I cease to be a merely free man, and become an own man. Why 
is the freedom of the peoples a ‘hollow word’? Because the peoples 
have no might! With a breath of the living ego I blow peoples over, 
be it the breath of a Nero, a Chinese emperor, or a poor writer. Why 
is it that the G— 165 legislatures pine in vain for freedom, and are 
lectured for it by the cabinet ministers? Because they are not of the 
‘mighty’! Might is a fine thing, and useful for many purposes; for 
‘one goes further with a handful of might than with a bagful of right’. 
You long for freedom? You fools! If you took might, freedom would 
come of itself. See, he who has might ‘stands above the law’. How 
does this prospect taste to you, you ‘law-abiding’ people? But you 
have no taste! 

The cry for ‘freedom’ rings loudly all around. But is it felt and 
known what a donated or chartered freedom must mean? It is not 
recognized in the full amplitude of the word that all freedom is essen- 
tially - self-liberation - that I can have only so much freedom as I 
procure for myself by my ownness. Of what use is it to sheep that 
no one abridges their freedom of speech? They stick to bleating. Give 
one who is inwardly a Moslem, a Jew, or a Christian, permission to 
speak what he likes: he will yet utter only narrow-minded stuff. If, 
on the contrary, certain others rob you of the freedom of speaking 
and hearing, they know quite rightly wherein lies their temporary 
advantage, as you would perhaps be able to say and hear something 
whereby those ‘certain’ persons would lose their credit. 

If they nevertheless give you freedom, they are simply rogues who 
give more than they have. For then they give you nothing of their 
own, but stolen wares: they give you your own freedom, the freedom 
that you must take for yourselves; and they give it to you only that 
you may not take it and call the thieves and cheats to an account to 
boot. In their slyness they know well that given (chartered) freedom 
is no freedom, since only the freedom one takes for himself, therefore 
the egoist’s freedom, rides with full sails. Donated freedom strikes 
its sails as soon as there comes a storm - or calm; it requires always 
a - gentle and moderate breeze. 

Here lies the difference between self-liberation and emancipation 
(manumission, setting free). Those who today ‘stand in the oppo- 
sition’ are thirsting and screaming to be ‘set free’. The princes are 

The Ego and Its Own 

to ‘declare their peoples of age’, that is, emancipate them! Behave as 
if you were of age, and you are so without any declaration of majority; 
if you do not behave accordingly, you are not worthy of it, and would 
never be of age even by a declaration of majority. When the Greeks 
were of age, they drove out their tyrants, and, when the son is of age, 
he makes himself independent of his father. If the Greeks had waited 
until their tyrants graciously allowed them their majority, they might 
have waited long. A sensible father throws out a son who will not 
come of age, and keeps the house to himself; it serves the simpleton 

The man who is set free is nothing but a freed man, a libertinus, 
a dog dragging a piece of chain with him: he is an unfree man in the 
garment of freedom, like the ass in the lion’s skin. Emancipated Jews 
are nothing bettered in themselves, but only relieved as Jews, 
although he who relieves their condition is certainly more than a 
churchly Christian, as the latter cannot do this without inconsistency. 
But, emancipated or not emancipated, Jew remains Jew; he who is 
not self- freed is merely an - emancipated man. The Protestant state 
can certainly set free (emancipate) the Catholics; but, because they 
do not make themselves free, they remain simply - Catholics. 

Selfishness and unselfishness have already been spoken of. The 
friends of freedom are exasperated against selfishness because in 
their religious striving after freedom they cannot free themselves from 
that sublime thing, ‘self-renunciation’. The liberal’s anger is directed 
against egoism, for the egoist, you know, never takes trouble about a 
thing for the sake of the thing, but for his sake: the thing must serve 
him. It is egoistic to ascribe to no thing a value of its own, an ‘abso- 
lute’ value, but to seek its value in me. One often hears about study 
in order to get a well-paid job which is so often counted among the 
most repulsive traits of egoistic behaviour, because it manifests the 
most shameful desecration of science; but what is science for but to 
be consumed? If one does not know how to use it for anything better 
than to get a well-paid job, then his egoism is a petty one indeed, 
because this egoist’s power is a limited power; but the egoistic 
element in it, and the desecration of science, only a possessed man 
can blame. 

Because Christianity, incapable of letting the individual [Einzelnen] 
count as an ego [Einzigen], thought of him only as a dependent, and 
was properly nothing but a social theory - a doctrine of living together, 



and that of man with God as well as of man with man - therefore in 
it everything ‘own’ must fall into most woeful disrepute: selfishness, 
self-will, ownness, self-love, and the like. The Christian way of look- 
ing at things has on all sides gradually re-stamped honourable words 
into dishonourable; why should they not be brought into honour 
again? So ‘contumely [SchimpfY is in its old sense equivalent to jest, 
but for Christian seriousness amusement became a dishonour, 166 for 
that seriousness cannot take a joke; ‘impudent [Freeh]' formerly meant 
only bold, brave; ‘wanton outrage [F revel Y was only daring. It is well 
known how askance the word ‘reason’ was looked at for a long time. 

Our language has settled itself pretty well to the Christian stand- 
point, and the general consciousness is still too Christian not to shrink 
in terror from everything un-Christian as from something incomplete 
or evil. Therefore ‘selfishness [Eigennutz]' is in a bad way too. 

Selfishness, in the Christian sense, means something like this: I 
look only to see whether anything is of use to me as a sensual man. 
But is sensuality then the whole of my ownness? Am I in my own 
senses when I am given up to sensuality? Do I follow myself, my own 
determination, when I follow that? I am my own only when I am 
master of myself, instead of being mastered either by sensuality or 
by anything else (God, man, authority, law, state, church); what is of 
use to me, this self-owned or self-appertaining one, my selfishness 

Besides, one sees himself every moment compelled to believe in 
that constantly blasphemed selfishness as an all-controlling power. 
In the session of io February 1844, Welcker 167 argues a motion on 
the dependence of the judges, and sets forth in a detailed speech 
that removable, dismissible, transferable, and pensionable judges - 
in short, such members of a court of justice as can by mere adminis- 
trative process be damaged and endangered - are wholly without 
reliability, yes, lose all respect and all confidence among the people. 
The whole bench, Welcker cries, is demoralized by this dependence! 
In blunt words this means nothing else than that the judges find it 
more to their advantage to give judgement as the ministers would 
have them than to give it as the law would have them. How is that 
to be helped? Perhaps by bringing home to the judges’ hearts the 
ignominiousness of their venality, and then cherishing the confidence 
that they will repent and henceforth prize justice more highly than 
their selfishness? No, the people does not soar to this romantic con- 


The Ego and Its Own 

fidence, for it feels that selfishness is mightier than any other motive. 
Therefore the same persons who have been judges hitherto may 
remain so, however thoroughly one has convinced himself that they 
behaved as egoists; only they must not any longer find their selfish- 
ness favoured by the venality of justice, but must stand so indepen- 
dent of the government that by a judgement in conformity with the 
facts they do not throw into the shade their own cause, their ‘well- 
understood interest’, but rather secure a comfortable combination of 
a good salary with respect among the citizens. 

So Welcker and the commoners of Baden consider themselves 
secured only when they can count on selfishness. What is one to 
think, then, of the countless phrases of unselfishness with which their 
mouths overflow at other times? 

To a cause which I am pushing selfishly I have another relation 
than to one which I am serving unselfishly. The following criterion 
might be cited for it; against the one I can sin [ versiindigen ] or commit 
a sin , the other I can only trifle away [verscherzen\, push from me, 
deprive myself of, that is commit an imprudence. Free trade is looked 
at in both ways, being regarded partly as a freedom which may under 
certain circumstances be granted or withdrawn, partly as one which is 
to be held sacred under all circumstances. 

If I am not concerned about a thing in and for itself, and do not 
desire it for its own sake, then I desire it solely as a means to an end , 
for its usefulness; for the sake of another end, as in oysters for a 
pleasant flavour. Now will not every thing whose final end he himself 
is, serve the egoist as means? And is he to protect a thing that serves 
him for nothing - for example, the proletarian to protect the state? 

Ownness includes in itself everything own, and brings to honour 
again what Christian language dishonoured. But ownness has not any 
alien standard either, as it is not in any sense an idea like freedom, 
morality, humanity, and the like: it is only a description of the - 



The owner 

I - do I come to myself and mine through liberalism? 

Whom does the liberal look upon as his equal? Man! Be only man - 
and that you are anyway - and the liberal calls you his brother. He 
asks very little about your private opinions and private follies, if only 
he can espy ‘man’ in you. 

But, as he takes little heed of what you are privatim - indeed, in 
a strict following out of his principle sets no value at all on it - he 
sees in you only what you are generatim . 168 In other words, he sees 
in you, not you , but the species ; not Hans or Thomas, but man; not 
the real or unique one, but your essence or your concept; not the 
bodily man, but the spirit. 

As Hans you would not be his equal, because he is Thomas, there- 
fore not Hans; as man you are the same that he is. And, since as 
Hans you virtually do not exist at all for him (so far, namely, as he 
is a liberal and not unconsciously an egoist), he has really made 
‘brother-love’ very easy for himself: he loves in you not Hans, of 
whom he knows nothing and wants to know nothing, but man. 

To see in you and me nothing further than ‘men’, that is running 
the Christian way of looking at things, according to which one is for 
the other nothing but a concept (a man called to salvation, for instance), 
into the ground. 

Christianity properly so called gathers us under a less utterly gen- 
eral concept: there we are ‘sons of God’ and ‘led by the Spirit of 
God’. fl Yet not all can boast of being God’s sons, but ‘the same Spirit 

4 Romans 8:14. 


The Ego and Its Own 

which witnesses to our spirit that we are sons of God reveals also 
who are the sons of the devil’/ Consequently, to be a son of God 
one must not be a son of the devil; the sonship of God excluded 
certain men. To be sons of men - that is, men - on the contrary, we 
need nothing but to belong to the human species , need only to be 
specimens of the same species. What I am as this I is no concern of 
yours as a good liberal, but is my private affair alone; enough that we 
are both sons of one and the same mother, namely, the human spec- 
ies: as ‘a son of man’ I am your equal. 

What am I now to you? Perhaps this bodily I as I walk and stand? 
Anything but that. This bodily I, with its thoughts, decisions, and 
passions, is in your eyes a ‘private affair’ which is no concern of 
yours: it is an ‘affair by itself’. As an ‘affair for you’ there exists only 
my concept, my generic concept, only the man , who, as he is called 
Hans, could just as well be Peter or Michael. You see in me not me, 
the bodily man, but an unreal thing, the spook, a man. 

In the course of the Christian centuries we declared the most 
various persons to be ‘our equals’, but each time in the measure of 
that spirit which we expected from them, each one in whom the spirit 
of the need of redemption may be assumed, then later each one who 
has the spirit of integrity, finally each one who shows a human spirit 
and a human face. Thus the fundamental principle of ‘equality’ 

Equality being now conceived as equality of the human spirit, there 
has certainly been discovered an equality that includes all men; for 
who could deny that we men have a human spirit, that is, no other 
than a human! 

But are we on that account further on now than in the beginning 
of Christianity? Then we were to have a divine spirit , now a human; 
but, if the divine did not exhaust us, how should the human wholly 
express what we are? Feuerbach thinks, that if he humanizes the 
divine, he has found the truth. No, if God has given us pain, ‘man’ 
is capable of pinching us still more torturingly. The long and the 
short of it is this: that we are men is the slightest thing about us, and 
has significance only in so far as it is one of our qualities [. Eigen - 
schaften ], our property [Eigentum]. I am indeed among other things a 

4 Compare Romans 8 : 1 6 and John 3:10. 


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man, as I am a living being, therefore an animal, or a European, a 
Berliner, and the like; but he who chose to have regard for me only 
as a man, or as a Berliner, would pay me a regard that would be very 
unimportant to me. And why? Because he would have regard only 
for one of my qualities , not for me. 

It is just so with the spirit too. A Christian spirit, an upright spirit, 
and the like may well be my acquired quality, my property, but I am 
not this spirit: it is mine, not I its. 

Hence we have in liberalism only the continuation of the old Chris- 
tian depreciation of the I, the bodily Hans. Instead of taking me as 
I am, one looks solely at my property, my qualities, and enters into 
marriage bonds with me only for the sake of my - possessions; one 
marries, as it were, what I have, not what I am. The Christian takes 
hold of my spirit, the liberal of my humanity. 

But, if the spirit, which is not regarded as the property of the bodily 
ego but as the proper ego itself, is a ghost, then the man too, who is 
not recognized as my quality but as the proper I, is nothing but a 
spook, a thought, a concept. 

Therefore the liberal too revolves in the same circle as the Chris- 
tian. Because the spirit of mankind, man, dwells in you, you are a 
man, as when the spirit of Christ dwells in you you are a Christian; 
but, because it dwells in you only as a second ego, even though it be 
as your proper or ‘better’ ego, it remains other-worldly to you, and 
you have to strive to become wholly man. A striving just as fruitless 
as the Christian’s to become wholly a blessed spirit! 

One can now, after liberalism has proclaimed man, declare openly 
that with this was only completed the consistent carrying out of Chris- 
tianity, and that in truth Christianity set itself no other task from the 
start than to realize ‘man’, the ‘true man’. Hence, then, the illusion 
that Christianity ascribes an infinite value to the ego [dem Ich ] (as in 
the doctrine of immortality, in the cure of souls, etc.) comes to light. 
No, it assigns this value to man [dem Menschen ] alone. Only man is 
immortal, and only because I am man am I also immortal. In fact, 
Christianity had to teach that no one is lost, just as liberalism too 
puts all on an equality as men; but that eternity, like this equality, 
applied only to the man in me, not to me. Only as the bearer and 
harbourer of man do I not die, as notoriously ‘the king never dies ’. 169 
Ludwig dies, but the king remains; I die, but my spirit, man, remains. 


The Ego and Its Own 

To identify me now entirely with man the demand has been invented, 
and stated, that I must become a ‘real generic being [wirkliches 
Gattungswesen]\ a 

The human religion is only the last metamorphosis of the Christian 
religion. For liberalism is a religion because it separates my essence 
from me and sets it above me, because it exalts ‘man’ to the same 
extent as any other religion does its God or idol, because it makes 
what is mine into something otherworldly, because in general it makes 
some of what is mine, out of my qualities and my property, something 
alien - namely, an ‘essence’; in short, because it sets me beneath 
man, and thereby creates for me a ‘vocation’. But liberalism declares 
itself a religion in form too when it demands for this supreme being, 
man, a zeal of faith, ‘a faith that some day will at last prove its fiery 
zeal too, a zeal that will be invincible’/ But, as liberalism is a human 
religion, its professor takes a tolerant attitude toward the professor of 
any other (Catholic, Jewish, etc.), as Frederick the Great did towards 
every one who performed his duties as a subject, whatever fashion 
of becoming blest he might be inclined toward. This religion is now 
to be raised to the rank of the generally customary one, and separated 
from the others as mere ‘private follies’, toward which, besides, one 
takes a highly liberal attitude on account of their unessentialness. 

One may call it the state-religion, the religion of the ‘free states’, 
not in the sense hitherto current that it is the one favoured or privi- 
leged by the state, but as that religion which the ‘free state ’ 170 not 
only has the right, but is compelled, to demand from each of those 
who belong to it, let him be privatim a Jew, a Christian, or anything 
else. For it does the same service to the state as filial piety to the 
family. If the family is to be recognized and maintained, in its existing 
condition, by each one of those who belong to it, then to him the tie 
of blood must be sacred, and his feeling for it must be that of piety, 
of respect for the ties of blood, by which every blood-relation 
becomes to him a consecrated person. So also to every member of 
the state -community this community must be sacred, and the concept 
which is the highest to the state must likewise be the highest to him. 

But what concept is the highest to the state? Doubtless that of 
being a really human society, a society in which every one who is really 

a For example, Karl Marx, ‘On the Jewish Question’, Deutsch-franzosische gahrbiicher, 
ed. Arnold Ruge (Paris, 1844), p. 197. 171 
h Bruno Bauer, Diejfudenfrage (Brunswick, 1843), p. 61. 


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a man, that is, not an un-man , can obtain admission as a member. Let 
a state’s tolerance go ever so far, toward an un-man and toward what 
is inhuman it ceases. And yet this ‘un-man’ is a man, yet the 
‘inhuman’ itself is something human, yes, possible only to a man, not 
to any beast; it is, in fact, something ‘possible to man’. But, although 
every un-man is a man, yet the state excludes him; it locks him up, 
or transforms him from an inhabitant of the state into an inhabitant 
of the prison (inhabitant of the lunatic asylum or hospital, according 
to communism). 

To say in blunt words what an un-man is is not particularly hard: 
it is a man who does not correspond to the concept man, as the 
inhuman is something human which is not conf ormed to the concept of 
the human. Logic calls this a ‘self-contradictory judgement’. Would it 
be permissible for one to pronounce this judgement, that one can be 
a man without being a man, if he did not admit the hypothesis that 
the concept of man can be separated from the existence, the essence 
from the appearance? They say, he appears indeed as a man, but is 
not a man. 

Men have passed this ‘self-contradictory judgement’ through a 
long line of centuries! Indeed, what is still more, in this long time 
there were only - un-men. What individual can have corresponded 
to his concept? Christianity knows only one man, and this one - 
Christ - is at once an un-man again in the reverse sense, namely, a 
superhuman man, a ‘God’. Only the - un-man is a real man. 

Men that are not men, what should they be but ghosts} Every real 
man, because he does not correspond to the concept ‘man’, or 
because he is not a ‘generic man’, is a spook. But do I still remain 
an un-man even if I bring man (who towered above me and remained 
other-worldly to me only as my ideal, my task, my essence or concept) 
down to be my quality, my own and inherent in me; so that man is 
nothing else than my humanity, my human existence, and everything 
that I do is human precisely because / do it, but not because it 
corresponds to the concept ‘man’? I am really man and the un-man in 
one; for I am a man and at the same time more than a man; I am 
the ego of this my mere quality. 

It had to come to this at last, that it was no longer merely demanded 
of us to be Christians, but to become men; for, though we could 
never really become even Christians, but always remained ‘poor sin- 
ners’ (for the Christian was an unattainable ideal too), yet in this the 


The Ego and Its Own 

contradictoriness did not come before our consciousness so, and the 
illusion was easier than now when of us, who are men and act 
humanly (yes, cannot do otherwise than be such and act so), the 
demand is made that we are to be men, ‘real men’. 

Our states of today, because they still have all sorts of things stick- 
ing to them, left from their churchly mother, do indeed load those 
who belong to them with various obligations (such as churchly 
religiousness) which properly do not a bit concern them, the states; 
yet on the whole they do not deny their significance, since they want 
to be looked upon as human societies , in which man as man can be a 
member, even if he is less privileged than other members; most of 
them admit adherence of every religious sect, and receive people 
without distinction of race or nation: Jews, Turks, Moors, etc., can 
become French citizens. In the act of reception, therefore, the state 
looks only to see whether one is a man. The church, as a society of 
believers, could not receive every man into her bosom; the state, as 
a society of men, can. But, when the state has carried its principle 
clear through, of presupposing in its constituents nothing but that 
they are men (even the North Americans still presuppose in theirs 
that they have religion, at least the religion of integrity, of 
responsibility), then it has dug its grave. While it will fancy that those 
whom it possesses are without exception men, these have meanwhile 
become without exception egoists , each of whom utilizes it according 
to his egoistic powers and ends. Against the egoists ‘human society’ 
is wrecked; for they no longer have to deal with each other as men , 
but appear egoistically as an I against a You altogether different from 
me and in opposition to me. 

If the state must count on our humanity, it is the same if one says 
it must count on our morality. Seeing man in each other, and acting 
as men toward each other, is called moral behaviour. This is in every 
way the ‘spiritual love’ of Christianity. For, if I see man in you, as in 
myself I see man and nothing but man, then I care for you as I 
would care for myself; for we represent, you see, nothing but the 
mathematical proposition: A = C and B = C, consequently A = B. 
I nothing but man and you nothing but man, consequently I and you 
the same. Morality is incompatible with egoism, because the former 
does not allow validity to me , but only to the man in me. But, if the 
state is a society of men , not a union of egos [Verein von Ichen ] each of 


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whom has only himself before his eyes, then it cannot last without 
morality, and must insist on morality. 

Therefore we two, the state and I, are enemies. I, the egoist, have 
not at heart the welfare of this ‘human society’. I sacrifice nothing to 
it, I only utilize it; but to be able to utilize it completely I transform 
it rather into my property and my creature; that is, I annihilate it, 
and form in its place the Union of Egoists [Verein von Egoist en\. 

So the state betrays its enmity to me by demanding that I be a 
man, which presupposes that I may also not be a man, but rank for 
it as an ‘un-man’; it imposes being a man upon me as a duty. Further, 
it desires me to do nothing along with which it cannot last; so its 
permanence is to be sacred for me. Then I am not to be an egoist, 
but a ‘respectable, upright’, thus moral, man. Enough; before it and 
its permanence I am to be impotent and respectful. 

This state, not a present one indeed, but still in need of being first 
created, is the ideal of advancing liberalism. There is to come into 
existence a true ‘society of men’, in which every ‘man’ finds room. 
Liberalism means to realize ‘man’, create a world for him; and this 
should be the human world or the general (communistic) society of 
men. It was said, ‘The church could regard only the spirit, the state 
is to regard the whole man’/ But is not ‘man’ ‘spirit’? The kernel of 
the state is simply ‘man’, this unreality, and it itself is only a ‘society 
of men’. The world which the believer (believing spirit) creates is 
called church, the world which the man (human or humane spirit) 
creates is called state. But that is not my world. I never execute 
anything human in the abstract, but always my own things; my human 
act is diverse from every other human act, and only by this diversity 
is it a real act belonging to me. The human in it is an abstraction, 
and, as such, spirit, abstracted essence. 

Bruno Bauer states that the truth of criticism is the final truth, and 
in fact the truth sought for by Christianity itself - namely, ‘man’. He 

The history of the Christian world is the history of the supreme 
fight for truth, for in it - and in it only! - the thing at issue is 
the discovery of the final or the primal truth - man and freedom/ 

* Moses Hess 172 (anonymously), Die europdische Triarchie (Leipzig, 1841), p. 76. 
k Bauer, Die Judenfrage, p. 84. 


The Ego and Its Own 

All right, let us accept this gain, and let us take man as the 
ultimately found result of Christian history and of the religious or 
ideal efforts of man in general. Now, who is man? I am! Man, 
the end and outcome of Christianity, is, as 7, the beginning and 
raw material of the new history, a history of enjoyment after the 
history of sacrifices, a history not of man or humanity, but of - 
me. Man ranks as the general. Now then, I and the egoistic are 
the really general, since every one is ah egoist and of paramount 
importance to himself. The Jewish is not the purely egoistic, 
because the Jew still devotes himself to Jehovah; the Christian is 
not, because the Christian lives on the grace of God and subjects 
himself to him. As Jew and as Christian alike a man satisfies only 
certain of his wants, only a certain need, not himself a half-eg oism, 
because the egoism of a half-man, who is half he, half Jew, or 
half his own proprietor, half a slave. Therefore, too, Jew and 
Christian always half-way exclude each other; as men they recog- 
nize each other, as slaves they exclude each other, because they 
are servants of two different masters. If they could be complete 
egoists, they would exclude each other wholly and hold together 
so much the more firmly. Their ignominy is not that they exclude 
each other, but that this is done only half-way. Bruno Bauer, on 
the contrary, thinks Jews and Christians cannot regard and treat 
each other as ‘men’ until they give up the separate essence which 
parts them and obligates them to eternal separation, recognize the 
general essence of ‘Man’, and regard this as their ‘true essence’. 

According to his representation the defect of the Jews and the 
Christians alike lies in their wanting to be and have something ‘par- 
ticular’ instead of only being men and endeavouring after what is 
human - namely, the ‘general rights of man’. He thinks their funda- 
mental error consists in the belief that they are ‘privileged’, possess 
‘prerogatives’; in general, in the belief in prerogative [ Vorrecht ]. In 
opposition to this he holds up to them the general rights of man 
[Menschenrecht] . The rights of man! 

Man is man in general, and in so far every one who is a man. Now 
every one is to have the eternal rights of man, and, according to the 
opinion of communism, enjoy them in the complete ‘democracy’, or, 
as it ought more correctly to be called - anthropocracy. But it is I 
alone who have everything that I - procure for myself; as man I have 
nothing. People would like to give every man an affluence of all good, 


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merely because he has the title ‘man’. But I put the accent on me , 
not on my being man. 

Man is something only as my quality [ Eigenschaft ] (property 
[ Eigentum ]) like masculinity or femininity. The ancients found the 
ideal in one’s being male in the full sense; their virtue is virtus and 
arete - manliness . 173 What is one to think of a woman who should 
want only to be perfectly ‘woman’? That is not given to all, and 
many a one would therein be fbang for herself an unattainable goal. 
Feminine , on the other hand, she is anyhow, by nature; femininity is 
her quality, and she does not need ‘true femininity’. I am a man just 
as the earth is a star. As ridiculous as it would be to set the earth 
the task of being a ‘thorough [rechter] star’, so ridiculous it is to 
burden me with the call to be a ‘thorough man’. 

When Fichte 174 says, ‘the ego is all’, this seems to harmonize per- 
fectly with my thesis. But it is not that the ego is all, but the ego 
destroys all, and only the self-dissolving ego, the never-being ego, 
the - finite ego is really I. Fichte speaks of the ‘absolute’ ego, but I 
speak of me, the transitory ego. 

How natural is the supposition that man and ego mean the same! 
And yet one sees, as with Feuerbach, that the expression ‘man’ is to 
designate the absolute ego, the species , not the transitory, individual 
ego. Egoism and humanity (humaneness) ought to mean the same, 
but according to Feuerbach the individual can ‘only lift himself above 
the limits of his individuality, but not above the laws, the positive 
ordinances, of his species’/ But the species is nothing, and, if the 
individual lifts himself above the limits of his individuality, this is 
rather his very self as an individual; he exists only in raising himself, 
he exists only in not remaining what he is; otherwise he would be 
done, dead. Man with a capital M is only an ideal, the species only 
something thought of. To be a man is not to realize the ideal of man , 
but to present oneself, the individual. It is not how I realize the generally 
human that needs to be my task, but how I satisfy myself. / am my 
species, am without norm, without law, without model, and the like. 
It is possible that I can make very little out of myself; but this little 
is everything, and is better than what I allow to be made out of me 
by the might of others, by the training of custom, religion, the laws, 

“ Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, 2nd enlarged edition (Leipzig, 1843), 
p. 401. 


The Ego and Its Own 

the state. Better - if the talk is to be of better at all - better an 
unmannerly child than an old head on young shoulders, better a 
mulish man than a man compliant in everything. The unmannerly 
and mulish fellow is still on the way to form himself according to his 
own will; the prematurely knowing and compliant one is determined 
by the ‘species’, the general demands, the species is law to him. He 
is detemined [bestimmt] by it; for what else is the species to him but 
his ‘destiny [BestimmungY, his ‘calling’? Whether I look to ‘humanity’, 
the species, in order to strive toward this ideal, or to God and Christ 
with like endeavour, where is the essential dissimilarity? At most the 
former is more washed-out than the latter. As the individual is the 
whole of nature, so he is the whole of the species too. 

Everything that I do, think, in short, my expression or manifes- 
tation, is indeed conditioned by what I am. The Jew can will only thus 
or thus, can ‘present himself’ only thus; the Christian can present 
and manifest himself only Christianly, etc. If it were possible that 
you could be a Jew or Christian, you would indeed bring out only 
what was Jewish or Christian; but it is not possible; in the most 
rigorous conduct you yet remain an egoist, a sinner against that con- 
cept - you are not the precise equivalent of Jew. Now, because the 
egoistic always keeps peeping through, people have inquired for a 
more perfect concept which should really wholly express what you 
are, and which, because it is your true nature, should contain all the 
laws of your activity. The most perfect thing of the kind has been 
attained in ‘man’. As a Jew you are too little, and the Jewish is not 
your task; to be a Greek, a German, does not suffice. But be a - 
man, then you have everything; look upon the human as your calling. 

Now I know what is expected of me, and the new catechism can 
be written. The subject is again subjected to the predicate, the indi- 
vidual to something general; the dominion is again secured to an 
idea, and the foundation laid for a new religion. This is a step forward 
in the domain of religion, and in particular of Christianity; not a step 
out beyond it. 

To step out beyond it leads into the unspeakable. For me paltry 
language has no word, and ‘the Word’, the Logos, is to me a ‘mere 

My essence is sought for. If not the Jew, the German, then at any 
rate it is - the man. ‘Man is my essence.’ 


The owner 

I am repulsive or repugnant to myself; I have a horror and loathing 
of myself, I am a horror to myself, or, I am never enough for myself 
and never do enough to satisfy myself. From such feelings springs 
self-dissolution or self-criticism. Religiousness begins with self- 
renunciation, ends with completed criticism. 

I am possessed, and want to get rid of the ‘evil spirit’. How do I 
set about it? I fearlessly commit the sin that seems to the Christian 
the direst, the sin and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. ‘He who 
blasphemes the Holy Spirit has no forgiveness forever, but is liable 
to the eternal judgement!’* I want no forgiveness, and am not afraid 
of the judgement. 

Man is the last evil spirit or spook, the most deceptive or most 
intimate, the craftiest liar with honest mien, the father of lies. 

The egoist, turning against the demands and concepts of the pre- 
sent, executes pitilessly the most measureless - desecration. Nothing 
is holy to him! 

It would be foolish to assert that there is no power above mine. 
Only the attitude that I take toward it will be quite another than that 
of the religious age: I shall be the enemy of every higher power, while 
religion teaches us to make it our friend and be humble toward it. 

The desecrator puts forth his strength against every fear of God , for 
fear of God would determine him in everything that he left standing 
as sacred. Whether it is the God or the man that exercises the hal- 
lowing power in the God-man - whether, therefore, anything is held 
sacred for God’s sake or for man’s (humanity’s) - this does not 
change the fear of God, since man is revered as ‘supreme essence’, 
as much as on the specifically religious standpoint God as ‘supreme 
essence’ calls for our fear [Furcht] and reverence [. Ehifurcht ]; both 
overawe us. 

The fear of God in the proper sense was shaken long ago, and a 
more or less conscious ‘atheism’, externally recognizable by a wide- 
spread ‘unchurchliness’, has involuntarily become the mode. But 
what was taken from God has been superadded to man, and the 
power of humanity grew greater in just the degree that that of piety 
lost weight: ‘Man’ is the God of today, and fear of man has taken 
the place of the old fear of God. 

J Mark 3:29. 


The Ego and Its Own 

But, because man represents only another Supreme Being, nothing 
in fact has taken place but a metamorphosis in the Supreme Being, 
and the fear of man is merely an altered form of the fear of God. 

Our atheists are pious people. 

If in the so-called feudal times we held everything as a fief from 
God, in the liberal period the same feudal relation exists with man. 
God was the Lord, now man is the Lord; God was the mediator, 
now man is; God was the Spirit, now man is. In this threefold regard 
the feudal relation has experienced a transformation. For now, firstly, 
we hold as a fief from all-powerful man our power , which, because it 
comes from a higher, is not called power or might, but ‘right’ - the 
‘rights of man’; we further hold as a fief from him our position in 
the world, for he, the mediator, mediates our intercourse with others, 
which therefore may not be otherwise than ‘human’; finally, we hold 
as a fief from him ourselves - namely, our own value, or all that we 
are worth - inasmuch as we are worth nothing when he does not 
dwell in us, and when or where we are not ‘human’. The power is 
man’s, the world is man’s, I am man’s. 

But am I not still unrestrained from declaring myself the entitler, 
the mediator, and the own self? Then it runs thus: 

My power is my property. 

My power gives me property. 

My power am I myself, and through it am I my property. 

My power 

Right [Recht] 175 is the spirit of society. If society has a will , this will is 
simply right: society exists only through right. But, as it endures only 
exercising a sovereignty over individuals, right is its sovereign will. 
Aristotle 176 says justice is the advantage of society. 

All existing right is - foreign law [Recht]; some one makes me 
out to be in the right, ‘does right by me’. But should I therefore 
be in the right if all the world made me out so? And yet what 
else is the right that I obtain in the state, in society, but a right 
of those foreign to me? When a blockhead makes me out in the 
right, I grow distrustful of my rightness; I don’t like to receive it 
from him. But, even when a wise man makes me out in the right, 
I nevertheless am not in the right on that account. Whether / am 

1 66 

The owner 

in the right is completely independent of the fool’s making out 
and the wise man’s. 

All the same, we have coveted this right until now. We seek for 
right, and turn to the court for that purpose. To what? To a royal, a 
papal, a popular court, etc. Can a sultanic court declare another right 
than that which the sultan has ordained to be right? Can it make me 
out in the right if I seek for a right that does not agree with the 
sultan’s law? Can it, for instance, concede to me high treason as a 
right, since it is assuredly not a right according to the sultan’s mind? 
Can it as a court of censorship allow me the free utterance of opinion 
as a right, since the sultan will hear nothing of this my right? What 
am I seeking for in this court, then? I am seeking for sultanic right, 
not my right; I am seeking for - foreign right. As long as this foreign 
right harmonizes with mine, to be sure, I shall find in it the latter 

The state does not permit pitching into each other man to man; it 
opposes the duel. Even every ordinary appeal to blows, notwithstand- 
ing that neither of the fighters calls the police to it, is punished; 
except when it is not an I whacking away at a you, but, say, the head 
of a family at the child. The family is entitled to this, and in its name 
the father; I as ego am not. 

The Vossische Zeitung 177 presents to us the ‘commonwealth of right 
[Rechtsstaat\ . There everything is to be decided by the judge and a 
court. It ranks the supreme court of censorship as a ‘court’ where 
‘right is declared’. What sort of a right? The right of the censorship. 
To recognize the sentences of that court as right one must regard 
the censorship as right. But it is thought nevertheless that this court 
offers a protection. Yes, protection against an individual censor’s 
error: it protects only the censorship-legislator against false interpret- 
ation of his will, at the same time making his statute, by the ‘sacred 
power of right’, all the firmer against writers. 

Whether I am in the right or not there is no judge but myself. 
Others can judge only whether they endorse my right, and whether 
it exists as right for them too. 

In the meantime let us take the matter yet another way. I am to 
reverence sultanic law in the sultanate, popular law in republics, 
canon law in Catholic communities. To these laws I am to subordi- 
nate myself; I am to regard them as sacred. A ‘sense of right’ and 
‘law-abiding mind’ of such a sort is so firmly planted in people’s 


The Ego and Its Own 

heads that the most revolutionary persons of our days want to subject 
us to a new ‘sacred law’, the ‘law of society’, the law of mankind, the 
‘right of all’, and the like. The right of ‘all’ is to go before my right. 
As a right of all it would indeed be my right among the rest, since I, 
with the rest, am included in all; but that it is at the same time a 
right of others, or even of all others, does not move me to its 
upholding. Not as a right of all will I defend it, but as my right; and 
then every other may see to it how he shall likewise maintain it for 
himself. The right of all (for example, to eat) is a right of every 
individual. Let each keep this right unabridged for himself then all 
exercise it spontaneously; let him not take care for all though - let 
him not grow zealous for it as for a right of all. 

But the social reformers preach to us a daw of society ’. There the 
individual becomes society’s slave, and is in the right only when 
society makes him out in the right, when he lives according to society’s 
statutes and so is - loyal. Whether I am loyal under a despotism or 
in a ‘society’ a la Weitling , 178 it is the same absence of right in so far 
as in both cases I have not my right but foreign right. 

In consideration of right the question is always asked: ‘What or 
who gives me the right to it?’ Answer: God, love, reason, nature, 
humanity, etc. No, only your might , your power gives you the right 
(your reason, therefore, may give it to you). 

Communism, which assumes that men ‘have equal rights by 
nature’, contradicts its own proposition until it comes to this, that 
men have no right at all by nature. For it is not willing to recognize, 
for instance, that parents have ‘by nature’ rights as against their chil- 
dren, or the children as against the parents: it abolishes the family. 
Nature gives parents, brothers, and so on, no right at all. Altogether, 
this entire revolutionary or Babouvist 179 principle* rests on a religious, 
that is, false, view of things. Who can ask after ‘right’ if he does 
not occupy the religious standpoint himself? Is not ‘right’ a religious 
concept, something sacred? Why, ‘ equality of rights' , as the revolution 
propounded it, is only another name for ‘Christian equality’, the 
‘equality of the brethren’, ‘of God’s children’, ‘of Christians’; in short, 
fratemite. Each and every inquiry after right deserves to be lashed 
with Schiller’s words: 

“ See Die Kommunisten in der Schweiz nach den bei Weitling vorgefundenen Papieren. Wort- 
licher Abdruck des Kommissionalberichtes an die H. Regierung des Standes Zurich (Zurich, 
1843), P- 3 - 180 


The owner 

Many a year I’ve used my nose 
To smell the onion and the rose; 

Is there any proof which shows 
That I’ve a right to that same nose ? 181 

When the revolution stamped equality as a ‘right’, it took flight 
into the religious domain, into the region of the sacred, of the ideal. 
Hence, since then, the fight for the ‘sacred, inalienable rights of 
man’. Against the ‘eternal rights of man’ the ‘well-earned rights of the 
established order’ are quite naturally, and with equal right, brought to 
bear: right against right, where of course one is decried by the other 
as ‘wrong’. This has been the contest of rights 182 since the revolution. 

You want to be ‘in the right’ as against the rest. That you cannot; 
as against them you remain forever ‘in the wrong’; for they surely 
would not be your opponents if they were not in ‘their right’ too; 
they will always make you out ‘in the wrong’. But, as against the right 
of the rest, yours is a higher, greater, more powerful right, is it not? 
No such thing! Your right is not more powerful if you are not more 
powerful. Have Chinese subjects a right to freedom? Just bestow it 
on them, and then look how far you have gone wrong in your attempt: 
because they do not know how to use freedom they have no right to 
it, or, in clearer terms, because they have not freedom they have not 
the right to it. Children have no right to the condition of majority 
because they are not of age, because they are children. Peoples that 
let themselves be kept in nonage have no rights to the condition of 
majority; if they ceased to be in nonage, then only would they have 
the right to be of age. This means nothing else than: What you have 
the power to be you have the right to. I derive all right and all warrant 
from me; I am entitled to everything that I have in my power. I am 
entitled to overthrow Zeus, Jehovah, God, if I can; if I cannot, then 
these gods will always remain in the right and in power as against 
me, and what I do will be to fear their right and their power in 
impotent ‘god-fearingness’, to keep their commandments and believe 
that I do right in everything that I do according to their right, just as 
the Russian border-guards think themselves rightfully entitled to 
shoot dead the suspicious persons who are escaping, since they 
murder ‘by superior authority’, ‘with right’. But I am entitled by 
myself to murder if I myself do not forbid it to myself, if I myself do 
not fear murder as a ‘wrong’. This view of things lies at the foun- 
dation of Chamisso’s poem, Das Mordtal , 183 where the grey-haired 


The Ego and Its Own 

Indian murderer compels reverence from the white man whose breth- 
ren he has murdered. The only thing I am not entitled to is what I 
do not do with a free cheer, that is, what I do not entitle myself to. 

/ decide whether it is the right thing in me\ there is no right outside 
me. If it is right for me , 184 it is right. Possibly this may not suffice to 
make it right for the rest; that is their care, not mine: let them defend 
themselves. And if for the whole world something were not right, but 
it were right for me, that is, I wanted it, then I would ask nothing 
about the whole world. So every one does who knows how to value 
himself, every one in the degree that he is an egoist; for might goes 
before right, and that - with perfect right. 

Because I am ‘by nature’ a man I have an equal right to the enjoy- 
ment of all goods, says Babeuf . 183 Must he not also say: because I 
am ‘by nature’ a first-born prince I have a right to the throne? The 
rights of man and the ‘well-earned rights’ come to the same thing in 
the end, namely, to nature , which gives me a right, that is, to birth 
(and, further, inheritance). ‘I am born as a man’ is equal to ‘I am born 
as a king’s son’. The natural man has only a natural right (because he 
has only a natural power) and natural claims: he has right of birth 
and claims of birth. But nature cannot entitle me, give me capacity 
or might, to that to which only my act entitles me. That the king’s 
child sets himself above other children, even this is his act, which 
secures to him the precedence; and that the other children approve 
and recognize this act is their act, which makes them worthy to be - 

Whether nature gives me a right, or whether God, the people’s 
choice, etc., does so, all of that is the same foreign right, a right that 
I do not give or take to myself. 

Thus the communists say, equal labour entitles man to equal 
enjoyment. Formerly the question was raised whether the ‘virtuous’ 
man must not be ‘happy’ on earth. The Jews actually drew this infer- 
ence: ‘That it may go well with thee on earth.’ No, equal labour does 
not entitle you to it, but equal enjoyment alone entitles you to equal 
enjoyment. Enjoy, then you are entitled to enjoyment. But, if you 
have laboured and let the enjoyment be taken from you, then - ‘it 
serves you right’. 

If you take the enjoyment, it is your right; if, on the contrary, you 
only pine for it without laying hands on it, it remains as before, a 


The owner 

‘well-earned right’ of those who are privileged for enjoyment. It is 
their right, as by laying hands on it would become your right. 

The conflict over the ‘right of property’ wavers in vehement com- 
motion. The communists affirm that ‘the earth belongs rightfully to 
him who tills it, and its products to those who bring them out’.* I 
think it belongs to him who knows how to take it, or who does not 
let it be taken from him, does not let himself be deprived of it. If he 
appropriates it, then not only the earth, but the right to it too, belongs 
to him. This is egoistic right : it is right for me, therefore it is right. 

Aside from this, right does have ‘a wax nose’. The tiger that assails 
me is in the right, and I who strike him down am also in the right. 
I defend against him not my right , but myself. 

As human right is always something given, it always in reality 
reduces to the right which men give, ‘concede’, to each other. If the 
right to existence is conceded to new-born children, then they have 
the right; if it is not conceded to them, as was the case among the 
Spartans and ancient Romans, then they do not have it. For only 
society can give or concede it to them; they themselves cannot take 
it, or give it to themselves. It will be objected, the children had 
nevertheless ‘by nature’ the right to exist; only Spartans refused recog- 
nition to this right. But then they simply had no right to this recog- 
nition - no more than they had to recognition of their life by the wild 
beasts to which they were thrown. 

People talk so much about birthright , and complain: 

There is - alas! - no mention of the rights 
That were born with us . 186 

What sort of right, then, is there that was born with me? The right 
to receive an entailed estate, to inherit a throne, to enjoy a princely 
or noble education; or, again, because poor parents begot me, to - 
get free schooling, be clothed out of contributions of alms, and at 
last earn my bread and my herring in the coal-mines or at the loom? 
Are these not birthrights, rights that have come down to me from 
my parents through birth ? You think - no; you think these are only 
rights improperly so called, it is just these rights that you aim to 

a August Becker, Die Volksphilosophie unserer Tage (Neumiinster near Zurich, 1843), 
pp. 22ff. 


The Ego and Its Own 

abolish through the real birthright. To give a basis for this you go 
back to the simplest thing and affirm that every one is by birth equal 
to another - namely, a man. I will grant you that every one is born 
as man, hence the new-born are therein equal to each other. Why 
are they? Only because they do not yet show and exert themselves as 
anything but bare - children of men , naked little human beings. But 
thereby they are at once different from those who have already made 
something out of themselves, who thus are no longer bare ‘children 
of man’, but - children of their own creation. The latter possesses 
more than bare birthrights: they have earned rights. What an anti- 
thesis, what a field of combat! The old combat of the birthrights of 
man and well-earned rights. Go right on appealing to your birth- 
rights; people will not fail to oppose to you the well-earned. Both 
stand on the ‘ground of right’; for each of the two has a ‘right’ against 
the other, the one the birthright of natural right, the other the earned 
or ‘well-earned’ right. 

If you remain on the ground of right [ Rechtsboden\ , you remain in - 
self-opinionatedness [Rechthaberei\. a The other cannot give you your 
right; he cannot ‘mete out right’ to you. He who has might has - 
right; if you have not the former, neither have you the latter. Is this 
wisdom so hard to attain? Just look at the mighty and their doings! 
We are talking here only of China and Japan, of course. Just try it 
once, you Chinese and Japanese, to make them out in the wrong, 
and learn by experience how they throw you into jail. (Only do not 
confuse with this the ‘well-meaning counsels’ which - in China and 
Japan - are permitted, because they do not hinder the mighty one, 
but possibly help him on.) For him who should want to make them 
out in the wrong there would stand open only one way to do that, 
that of might. If he deprives them of their might , then he has really 
made them out in the wrong, deprived them of their right; in any 
other case he can do nothing but clench his little fist in his pocket, 
or fall a victim as an obtrusive fool. 

In short, if you Chinese or Japanese did not ask after right, and in 
particular if you did not ask after the rights ‘that were bom with you’, 
then you would not need to ask at all after the well-earned rights 

“ ‘I beg you spare my lungs! He who insists on proving himself right, if he but has one 
of those things called tongues, can hold his own in all the world’s despite !” 87 

I 7 2 

The owner 

You start back in fright before others, because you think you see 
beside them the ghost of right , which, as in the Homeric combats, 
seems to fight as a goddess at their side, helping them. What do you 
do? Do you throw the spear? No, you creep around to gain the spook 
over to yourselves, that it may fight on your side: you woo for the 
ghost’s favour. Another would simply ask thus: Do I will what my 
opponent will? ‘No!’ Now then, there may fight for him a thousand 
devils or gods, I go at him all the same! 

The ‘commonwealth of right’, as the Vossische Zeitung among others 
stands for it, asks that office-holders be removable only by the judge, 
not by the administration. Vain illusion! If it were settled by law that 
an office-holder who is once seen drunken shall lose his office, then 
the judges would have to condemn him on the word of the witnesses. 
In short, the lawgiver would only have to state precisely all the poss- 
ible grounds which entail the loss of office, however laughable they 
might be (that is, he who laughs in his superiors’ faces, who does 
not go to church every Sunday, who does not take the communion 
every four weeks, who runs in debt, who has disreputable associates, 
who shows no determination, etc., shall be removed. These things 
the lawgiver might take it into his head to prescribe for a court of 
honour); then the judge would solely have to investigate whether the 
accused had ‘become guilty’ of those ‘offences’, and, on presentation 
of the proof, pronounce sentence of removal against him ‘in the name 
of the law’. 

The judge is lost when he ceases to be mechanical , when he ‘is 
forsaken by the rules of evidence’. Then he no longer has anything 
but an opinion like everybody else; and, if he decides according to 
this opinion , his action is no longer an official action. As judge he must 
decide only according to the law. Commend me rather to the old 
French parliaments, which wanted to examine for themselves what 
was to be a matter of right, and to register it only after their own 
approval. They at least judged according to a right of their own, and 
were not willing to give themselves up to be machines of the lawgiver, 
although as judges they must, to be sure, become their own machines. 

It is said that punishment is the criminal’s right . 188 But impunity 
is just as much his right. If his undertaking succeeds, it serves him 
right, and, if it does not succeed, it likewise serves him right. You 
make your bed and lie in it. If some one goes foolhardily into dangers 
and perishes in them, we are apt to say, ‘it serves him right; he 


The Ego and Its Own 

would have it so’. But, if he conquered the dangers, if his might was 
victorious, then he would be in the right too. If a child plays with the 
knife and gets cut, it is served right; but, if it doesn’t get cut, it is 
served right too. Hence right befalls the criminal, doubtless, when 
he suffers what he risked; why, what did he risk it for, since he 
knew the possible consequences? But the punishment that we decree 
against him is only our right, not his. Our right reacts against his, 
and he is - ‘in the wrong at last’ because - we get the upper hand. 

But what is right [Recht\, what is matter of right in a society, is voiced 
too - in the law [Gesetze]. 

Whatever the law may be, it must be respected by the - loyal 
citizen. Thus the law-abiding mind of Old England is eulogized. To 
this that Euripidean 189 sentiment entirely corresponds: ‘We serve the 
gods, whatever the gods are.’* Law as such, God as such, thus far we 
are today. 

People are at pains to distinguish law from arbitrary orders [Befehl\, 
from an ordinance: the former comes from a duly entitled authority. 
But a law over human action (ethical law, state law, etc.) is always a 
declaration of will, and so an order. Yes, even if I myself gave myself 
the law, it would yet be only my order, to which in the next moment 
I can refuse obedience. One may well enough declare what he will 
put up with, and so deprecate the opposite of the law, making known 
that in the contrary case he will treat the transgressor as his enemy; 
but no one has any business to command my actions, to say what 
course I shall pursue and set up a code to govern it. I must put up 
with it that he treats me as his enemy, but never that he makes free 
with me as his creature, and that he makes his reason, or even unrea- 
son, my plumb-line. 

States last only so long as there is a ruling will and this ruling will 
is looked upon as tantamount to the own will. The lord’s will is - 
law. What do your laws amount to if no one obeys them? What your 
orders, if nobody lets himself be ordered? The state cannot forbear 
the claim to determine the individual’s will, to speculate and count 
on this. For the state it is indispensable that nobody have an own 
will ; if one had, the state would have to exclude (lock up, banish, 
etc.) this one; if all had, they would do away with the state. The state 

11 Euripides, Orestes, 412. 


The owner 

is not thinkable without lordship [. Herrschaft ] and servitude [Knecht- 
schaft ] (subjection); for the state must will to be the lord of all that it 
embraces, and this will is called the ‘will of the state’. 

He who, to hold his own, must count on the absence of will in 
others is a thing made by these others, as the master is a thing made 
by the servant. If submissiveness ceased, it would be all over with 

The own will of me is the state’s destroyer; it is therefore 
denounced by the state as ‘self-will’. Own will and the state are 
powers in deadly hostility, between which no ‘perpetual peace ’ 190 is 
possible. As long as the state asserts itself, it represents own will, its 
ever-hostile opponent, as unreasonable, evil; and the latter lets itself 
be talked into believing this - indeed, it really is such, for no more 
reason than this, that it still lets itself be talked into such belief: it 
has not yet come to itself and to the consciousness of its dignity; 
hence it is still incomplete, still amenable to fine words. 

Every state is a despotism , be the despot one or many, or (as one is 
likely to imagine about a republic) if all be lords, that is, despotize 
one over another. For this is the case when the law given at any time, 
the expressed volition of (it may be) a popular assembly, is thenceforth 
to be law for the individual, to which obedience is due from him or 
towards which he has the duty of obedience. If one were even to 
conceive the case that every individual in the people had expressed 
the same will, and hereby a complete ‘collective will’ had come into 
being, the matter would still remain the same. Would I not be bound 
today and henceforth to my will of yesterday? My will would in this 
case be frozen. Wretched stabilityl My creature - namely, a particular 
expression of will - would have become my commander. But I in my 
will, I the creator, should be hindered in my flow and my dissolution. 
Because I was a fool yesterday I must remain such my life long. So 
in the state-life I am at best - I might just as well say, at worst - a 
bondman of myself. Because I was a wilier yesterday, I am today 
without will: yesterday voluntary, today involuntary. 

How to change it? Only by recognizing no duty , not binding myself 
nor letting myself be bound. If I have no duty, then I know no law 

‘But they will bind me!’ My will nobody can bind, and my disincli- 
nation remains free. 

‘Why, everything must go topsy-turvy if every one could do what 


The Ego and Its Own 

he would!’ Well, who says that every one can do everything? What 
are you there for, pray, you who do not need to put up with every- 
thing? Defend yourself, and no one will do anything to you! He who 
would break your will has to do with you, and is your enemy. Deal 
with him as such. If there stand behind you for your protection some 
millions more, then you are an imposing power and will have an easy 
victory. But, even if as a power you overawe your opponent, still you 
are not on that account a hallowed authority to him, unless he be a 
simpleton. He does not owe you respect and regard, even though he 
will have to consider your might. 

We are accustomed to classify states according to the different 
ways in which ‘the supreme might’ is distributed. If an individual has 
it - monarchy; if all have it - democracy; etc. Supreme might then! 
Might against whom? Against the individual and his ‘self-will’. The 
state practices ‘violence’, the individual must not do so. The state’s 
behaviour is violence, and it calls its violence ‘law’; that of the individ- 
ual, ‘crime [Verbrechen]\ Crime, then - so the individual’s violence is 
called; and only by crime does he overcome [bricht] the state’s viol- 
ence when he thinks that the state is not above him, but he is above 
the state. 

Now, if I wanted to act ridiculously, I might, as a well-meaning 
person, admonish you not to make laws which impair my self- 
development, self-activity, self-creation. I do not give this advice. 
For, if you should follow it, you would be unwise, and I should have 
been cheated of my entire profit. I request nothing at all from you; 
for, whatever I might demand, you would still be dictatorial lawgivers, 
and must be so, because a raven [Rabe\ cannot sing, nor a robber 
[ R'duber ] live without robbery. Rather do I ask those who would be 
egoists what they think the more egoistic - to let laws be given them 
by you, and to respect those that are given, or to practice refractoriness , 
yes, complete disobedience. Good-hearted people think the laws 
ought to prescribe only what is accepted in the people’s feeling as 
right and proper. But what concern is it of mine what is accepted in 
the nation and by the nation? The nation will perhaps be against the 
blasphemer; therefore a law against blasphemy. Am I not to blas- 
pheme on that account? Is this law to be more than an ‘order’ to me? 
I put the question. 

Solely from the principle that all right and all authority belong to 
the collectivity of the people do all forms of government arise. For none 


The owner 

of them lacks this appeal to the collectivity, and the despot, as well 
as the president or any aristocracy, acts and commands ‘in the name 
of the state’. They are in possession of the ‘authority of the state’, 
and it is perfectly indifferent whether, were this possible, the people 
as a collectivity (all individuals) exercise this state -authority, or whether 
it is only the representatives of this collectivity, be there many of them 
as in aristocracies or one as in monarchies. Always the collectivity is 
above the individual, and has a power which is called legitimate , which 
is law. 

Over against the sacredness of the state, the individual is only a 
vessel of dishonour, in which ‘exuberance, malevolence, mania for 
ridicule and slander, frivolity’, are left as soon as he does not deem 
that object of veneration, the state, to be worthy of recognition. The 
spiritual haughtiness of the servants and subjects of the state has fine 
penalties against unspiritual ‘exuberance’. 

When the government designates as punishable all play of mind 
against the state, the moderate liberals come and opine that fun, 
satire, wit, humour, must have free play anyhow, and genius must 
enjoy freedom. So not the individual man indeed, but still genius , 
is to be free. Here the state, or in its name the government, says 
with perfect right: He who is not for me is against me . 191 Fun, 
wit, etc. - in short, the turning of state affairs into a comedy - 
have undermined states from of old: they are not ‘innocent’. And, 
further, what boundaries are to be drawn between guilty and 
innocent wit? At this question the moderates fall into great perplex- 
ity, and everything reduces itself to the prayer that the state 
(government) would please not be so sensitive , so ticklish ; that it 
would not immediately scent malevolence in ‘harmless’ things, and 
would in general be a little ‘more tolerant’. Exaggerated sensitive- 
ness is certainly a weakness, its avoidance may be praiseworthy 
virtue; but in time of war one cannot be sparing, and what may 
be allowed under peaceable circumstances ceases to be permitted 
as soon as a state of siege is declared. Because the well-meaning 
liberals feel this plainly, they hasten to declare that, considering 
‘the devotion of the people’, there is assuredly no danger to be 
feared. But the government will be wiser, and not let itself be 
talked into believing anything of that sort. It knows too well how 
people stuff one with fine words, and will not let itself be satisfied 
with these appearances. 


The Ego and Its Own 

But they are bound to have their play- ground, for they are children, 
you know, and cannot be so staid as old people; boys will be boys. 

Only for this play-ground, only for a few hours of jolly running 
about, they bargain. They ask only that the state should not, like a 
splenetic papa, be too cross. It should permit some Processions of 
the Ass and plays of fools, as the church allowed them in the Middle 
Ages . 192 But the times when it could grant this without danger are 
past. Children that now once come into the open, and live through an 
hour without the rod of discipline, are no longer willing to go into 
the cell. For the open is now no longer a supplement to the cell, no 
longer a refreshing recreation, but its opposite, an aut-aut. m In short, 
the state must either no longer put up with anything, or put up with 
everything and perish; it must be either sensitive through and 
through, or, like a dead man, insensitive. Tolerance is done with. If 
the state but gives a finger, they take the whole hand at once. There 
can be no more ‘jesting’, and all jest, such as fun, wit, humour, 
becomes bitter earnest. 

The clamour of the ‘liberals [. Freisinnigen ]’ for freedom of the press 
[Preftfreiheit\ runs counter to their own principle, their proper will. 
They will what they do not will-, they wish, they would like. Hence it 
is too that they fall away so easily when once so-called freedom of 
the press appears; then they would like censorship. Quite naturally. 
The state is sacred even to them; likewise morals. They behave 
toward it only as ill-bred brats, as artful children who seek to utilize 
the weaknesses of their parents. Papa State is to permit them to say 
many things that do not please him, but papa has the right, by a stern 
look, to blue-pencil their impertinent gabble. If they recognize in him 
their papa, they must in his presence put up with the censorship of 
speech, like every child. 

If you let yourself be made out in the right by another, you must no 
less let yourself be made out in the wrong by him; if justification 
and reward come to you from him, expect also his arraignment and 
punishment. Alongside right goes wrong, alongside legality crime. 
What are you} - You are a - criminal. 

‘The criminal is in the utmost degree the state’s own crime !’ fl says 
Bettina . 194 One may let this sentiment pass, even if Bettina herself 

a Bettina von Arnim (anonymously), Dies Buck gehort dm Konig (Berlin, 1843), p. 376. 


The owner 

does not understand it exactly so. For in the state the unbridled I - 
I, as I belong to myself alone - cannot come to my fulfilment and 
realization. Every ego is from birth a criminal to begin with against 
the people, the state. Hence it is that it does really keep watch over 
all; it sees in each one an - egoist, and it is afraid of the egoist. It 
presumes the worst about each one, and takes care, police-care, that 
‘no harm happens to the state’, ne quid respublica detriment capiat , 195 
The unbridled ego - and this we originally are, and in our secret 
inward parts we remain so always - is the never-ceasing criminal in 
the state. The man whom his boldness, his will, his inconsiderateness 
and fearlessness lead is surrounded with spies by the state, by the 
people. I say, by the people! The people (think it something wonder- 
ful, you good-hearted multitude, what you have in the people) - the 
people is full of police sentiments through and through. - Only he 
who renounces his ego, who practises ‘self-renunciation’, is accept- 
able to the people. 

In the book cited Bettina is throughout good-natured enough to 
regard the state as only sick, and to hope for its recovery, a recovery 
which she would bring about through the ‘demagogues ’; 0 but it is not 
sick; rather is it in its full strength, when it puts from it the dema- 
gogues who want to acquire something for the individuals, for ‘all’. 
In its believers it is provided with the best demagogues (leaders of 
the people). According to Bettina, the state is to ‘develop mankind’s 
germ of freedom; otherwise it is a raven-mother 196 and caring for 
raven-fodder!’* It cannot do otherwise, for in its very caring for ‘man- 
kind’ (which, besides, would have to be the ‘humane’ or ‘free’ state 
to begin with) the ‘individual’ is raven-fodder for it. How rightly 
speaks the burgomaster, on the other hand: 

What? The state has no other duty than to be merely the attend- 
ant of incurable invalids? - That isn’t to the point. From of old 
the healthy state has relieved itself of the diseased matter, and 
not mixed itself with it. It does not need to be so economical 
with its juices. Cut off the robber-branches without hesitation, 
that the others may bloom. - Do not shiver at the state’s harsh- 
ness; its morality, its policy and religion, point it to that. Accuse 
it of no want of feeling; its sympathy revolts against this, but its 
experience finds safety only in this severity! There are diseases 

“ Ibid. p. 376. * Ibid. p. 374. 


The Ego and Its Own 

in which only drastic remedies will help. The physician who 
recognizes the disease as such, but timidly turns to palliatives, 
will never remove the disease, but may well cause the patient to 
succumb after a shorter or longer sickness/ 

Frau Rat’s 197 question, ‘If you apply death as a drastic remedy, how 
is the cure to be wrought then?’ isn’t to the point. Why, the state 
does not apply death against itself, but against an offensive member; 
it tears out an eye that offends it, etc . 198 

‘For the invalid state the only way of salvation is to make man 
flourish in it.’* If one here, like Bettina, understands by man the 
concept ‘man’, she is right; the ‘invalid’ state will recover by the 
flourishing of ‘man’, for, the more infatuated the individuals are with 
‘man’, the better it serves the state’s turn. But, if one referred it to 
the individuals, to ‘all’ (and the author half-does this too, because 
about ‘man’ she is still involved in vagueness), then it would sound 
somewhat like the following: For an invalid band of robbers the only 
way of salvation is to make the loyal citizen flourish in it! Why, thereby 
the band of robbers would simply go to ruin as a band of robbers; 
and, because it perceives this, it prefers to shoot every one who has 
a leaning toward becoming a ‘steady man’. 

In this book Bettina is a patriot, or, what is little more, a philanthro- 
pist, a worker for human happiness. She is discontented with the 
existing order in quite the same way as is the title- spectre of her 
book , 199 along with all who would like to bring back the good old 
faith and what goes with it. Only she thinks, contrariwise, that the 
politicians, place-holders, and diplomats ruined the state, while those 
lay it at the door of the malevolent, the ‘seducers of the people’. 

What is the ordinary criminal but one who has committed the fatal 
mistake of endeavouring after what is the people’s instead of seeking 
for what is his? He has sought despicable alien goods, has done what 
believers do who seek after what is God’s. What does the priest who 
admonishes the criminal do? He sets before him the great wrong of 
having desecrated by his act what was hallowed by the state, its prop- 
erty (in which, of course, must be included even the life of those who 
belong to the state); instead of this, he might rather hold up to him 
the fact that he has besmirched himself in not despising the alien thing, 
but thinking it worth stealing; he could, if he were not a cleric. Talk 

“ Ibid. p. 381. b Ibid. p. 385. 


The owner 

with the so-called criminal as with an egoist, and he will be ashamed, 
not that he transgressed against your laws and goods, but that he 
considered your laws worth evading, your goods worth desiring; he 
will be ashamed that he did not - despise you and yours together, 
that he was too little an egoist. But you cannot talk egoistically with 
him, for you are not so great as a criminal, you - commit no crime! 
You do not know that an ego who is his own cannot desist from being 
a criminal, that crime is his life. And yet you should know it, since 
you believe that ‘we are all miserable sinners’; but you think surrep- 
titiously to get beyond sin, you do not comprehend - for you are 
devil- fearing - that guilt is the value of a man. Oh, if you were guilty! 
But now you are ‘righteous [Gerechte]*. Well - just put every thing 
nicely to rights [gerecht] for your master! 

When the Christian consciousness, or the Christian man, draws up 
a criminal code, what can the concept of crime be there but simply - 
heartlessness ? Each severing and wounding of a heart relation , each 
heartless behaviour toward a sacred being, is crime. The more heartfelt 
the relation is supposed to be, the more scandalous is the deriding 
of it, and the more worthy of punishment the crime. Everyone who 
is subject to the lord should love him; to deny this love is a high 
treason worthy of death. Adultery is a heartlessness worthy of punish- 
ment; one has no heart, no enthusiasm, no pathetic feeling for the 
sacredness of marriage. So long as the heart or soul dictates laws, 
only the heartful or soulful man enjoys the protection of the laws. 
That the man of soul makes laws means properly that the moral man 
makes them: what contradicts these men’s ‘moral feeling’, this they 
penalize. How should disloyalty, secession, breach of oaths - in short, 
all radical breaking off, all tearing asunder of venerable ties - not be 
infamous and criminal in their eyes? He who breaks with these 
demands of the soul has for enemies all the moral, all the men of 
soul. Only Krummacher and his crowd are the right people to set up 
consistently a penal code of the heart, as a certain bill sufficiently 
proves. The consistent legislation of the Christian State must be 
placed wholly in the hands of the - clerics , and will not become pure 
and coherent so long as it is worked out only by - the cleric-ridden, 
who are always only half-clerics. Only then will every lack of soul- 
fulness, every heartlessness, be certified as an unpardonable crime, 
only then will every agitation of the soul become condemnable, every 
objection of criticism and doubt be anathematized; only then is the 

The Ego and Its Own 

own man, before the Christian consciousness, a convicted - criminal 
to begin with. 

The men of the revolution often talked of the people’s ‘just 
revenge’ as its ‘right’. Revenge and right coincide here. Is this an 
attitude of an ego to an ego? The people cries that the opposite party 
has committed ‘crimes’ against it. Can I assume that one commits a 
crime against me, without assuming that he has to act as I see fit? 
And this action I call the right, the good, etc.; the divergent action, 
a crime. So I think that the others must aim at the same goal with 
me; I do not treat them as unique beings who bear their law in 
themselves and live according to it, but as beings who are to obey 
some ‘rational’ law. I set up what ‘man’ is and what acting in a ‘truly 
human’ way is, and I demand of every one that this law become norm 
and ideal to him; otherwise he will expose himself as a ‘sinner and 
criminal’. But upon the ‘guilty’ falls the ‘penalty of the law’! 

One sees here how it is ‘man’ again who sets on foot even the 
concept of crime, of sin, and therewith that of right. A man in whom 
I do not recognize ‘man’ is ‘sinner, a guilty one’. 

Only against a sacred thing are there criminals; you against me 
can never be a criminal, but only an opponent. But not to hate him 
who injures a sacred thing is in itself a crime, as St Just cries out 
against Danton : 200 ‘Are you not a criminal and responsible for not 
having hated the enemies of the fatherland?’ 

If, as in the revolution, what ‘man’ is is apprehended as ‘good 
citizen’, then from this concept of ‘man’ we have the well-known 
‘political offences and crimes’. 

In all this the individual, the individual man, is regarded as refuse, 
and on the other hand the general man, ‘man’, is honoured. Now, 
according to how this ghost is named - as Christian, Jew, Moslem, 
good citizen, loyal subject, freeman, patriot, etc. - just so do those who 
would like to carry through a divergent concept of man, as well as those 
who want to put themselves through, fall before victorious ‘man’. 

And with what unction the butchery goes on here in the name of 
the law, of the sovereign people, of God, etc.! 

Now, if the persecuted artfully conceal and protect themselves 
from the stern clerical judges, people stigmatize them as a ‘hypocrite’, 
as St Just does those whom he accuses in the speech against Danton. fl 
One is to be a fool, and deliver himself up to their Moloch. 

13 Adolf Rutenburg 201 (ed.), Bibliothek politischer Reden aus dem 18. und 19. Jahrhundert, 
volume hi (Berlin, 1844), p. 153. 


The owner 

Crimes spring from fixed ideas. The sacredness of marriage is a 
fixed idea. From the sacredness it follows that infidelity is a crime , 
and therefore a certain marriage law imposes upon it a shorter or 
longer penalty. But by those who proclaim ‘freedom as sacred’ this 
penalty must be regarded as a crime against freedom, and only in 
this sense has public opinion in fact branded the marriage law. 

Society would have every one come to his right indeed, but yet only 
to that which is sanctioned by society, to the society-right, not really 
to his right. But I give or take to myself the right out of my own 
plenitude of power, and against every superior power I am the most 
impenitent criminal. Owner and creator of my right, I recognize no 
other source of right than - me, neither God nor the state nor nature 
nor even man himself with his ‘eternal rights of man’, neither divine 
nor human right. 

Right ‘in and for itself’. Without relation to me, therefore! ‘Abso- 
lute right.’ Separated from me, therefore! A thing that exists in and 
for itself! An absolute! An eternal right, like an eternal truth! 

According to the liberal way of thinking, right is to be obligatory 
for me because it is thus established by human reason , against which 
my reason is ‘unreason’. Formerly people inveighed in the name of 
divine reason against weak human reason; now, in the name of strong 
human reason, against egoistic reason, which is rejected as ‘un- 
reason’. And yet none is real but this very ‘unreason’. Neither divine 
nor human reason, but only your and my reason existing at any given 
time, is real, as and because you and I are real. 

The thought of right is originally my thought; or, it has its origin 
in me. But, when it has sprung from me, when the ‘Word’ is out, 
then it has ‘become flesh’, it is a fixed idea. Now I no longer get rid 
of the thought; however I turn, it stands before me. Thus men have 
not become masters again of the thought ‘right’, which they them- 
selves created; their creature is running away with them. This is 
absolute right, that which is absolved or unfastened from me. We, 
revering it as absolute, cannot devour it again, and it takes from us 
the creative power: the creature is more than the creator, it is ‘in and 
for itself’. 

Once you no longer let right run around free, once you draw it 
back into its origin, into you, it is your right; and that is right which 
suits you [und recht ist, was Dir recht ist] . 

Right has had to suffer an attack within itself, from the standpoint of 
right; war being declared on the part of liberalism against ‘privilege’. 


The Ego and Its Own 

Privileged and endowed with equal rights - on these two concepts 
turns a stubborn fight. Excluded or admitted - would mean the same. 
But where should there be a power - be it an imaginary one like 
God, law, or a real one like I, you - of which it should not be true 
that before it all are ‘endowed with equal rights’, that is, no respect 
of persons holds? Every one is equally dear to God if he adores him, 
equally agreeable to the law if only he is a law-abiding person; 
whether the lover of God and the law is humpbacked and lame, 
whether poor or rich, and the like, that amounts to nothing for God 
and the law; just so, when you are at the point of drowning, you like 
a Negro as rescuer as well as the most excellent Caucasian - yes, in 
this situation you esteem a dog not less than a man. But to whom 
will not every one be also, contrariwise, a preferred or disregarded 
person? God punishes the wicked with his wrath, the law chastises 
the lawless, you let one visit you every moment and show the other 
the door. 

The ‘equality of right’ is a phantom just because right is nothing 
more and nothing less than admission, a matter of grace , which, be 
it said, one may also acquire by his desert; for desert and grace 
are not contradictory, since even grace wishes to be ‘deserved’ 
and our gracious smile falls only to him who knows how to force 
it from us. 

So people dream of ‘all citizens of the state having to stand side 
by side, with equal rights’. As citizens of the state they are certainly 
all equal for the state. But it will divide them, and advance them or 
put them in the rear, according to its special ends, if on no other 
account; and still more must it distinguish them from one another as 
good and bad citizens. 

Bruno Bauer disposes of the Jewish question from the standpoint 
that ‘privilege’ is not justified. Because Jew and Christian have each 
some point of advantage over the other, and in having this point of 
advantage are exclusive, therefore before the critic’s gaze they crum- 
ble into nothingness. With them the state lies under the like blame, 
since it justifies their having advantages and stamps it as a ‘privilege’ 
or prerogative, but thereby derogates from its calling to become a 
‘free state’. 

But now every one has something of advantage over another, 
namely, himself or his individuality [Einzigkeit]; in this everybody 
remains exclusive. 


The owner 

And, again, before a third party every one makes his peculiarity 
[Eigentiimlichkeit] count for as much as possible, and (if he wants to 
win him at all) tries to make it appear attractive before him. 

Now, is the third party to be insensible to the difference of the 
one from the other? Do they ask that of the free state or of humanity? 
Then these would have to be absolutely without self-interest, and 
incapable of taking an interest in any one whatever. Neither God 
(who divides his own from the wicked) nor the state (which knows 
how to separate good citizens from bad) was thought of as so 

But they are looking for this very third party that bestows no more 
‘privilege’. Then it is called perhaps the free state, or humanity, or 
whatever else it may be. 

As Christian and Jew are ranked low by Bruno Bauer on account 
of their asserting privileges, it must be that they could and should 
free themselves from their narrow standpoint by self-renunciation or 
unselfishness. If they threw off their ‘egoism’, the mutual wrong 
would cease, and with it Christian and Jewish religiousness in gen- 
eral; it would be necessary only that neither of them should any 
longer want to be anything peculiar. 

But, if they gave up this exclusiveness, with that the ground on 
which their hostilities were waged would in truth not yet be forsaken. 
In case of need they would indeed find a third thing on which they 
could unite, a ‘general religion’, a ‘religion of humanity’, and the like; 
in short, an equalization, which need not be better than that which 
would result if all Jews became Christians, by this likewise the ‘privi- 
lege’ of one over the other would have an end. The tension [Spannung] 
would indeed be done away, but in this consisted not the essence of 
the two, but only their neighbourhood. As being distinguished from 
each other they must necessarily be mutually resistant [gespannt], and 
the disparity will always remain. Truly it is not a failing in you that 
you stiffen [spannst] yourself against me and assert your distinctness 
or peculiarity: you need not give way or renounce yourself. 

People conceive the significance of the opposition too formally and 
weakly when they want only to ‘dissolve’ it in order to make room 
for a third thing that shall ‘unite’. The opposition deserves rather to 
be sharpened. As Jew and Christian you are in too slight an opposition, 
and are contending only about religion, as it were about the emperor’s 
beard, about a trifle. Enemies in religion indeed, in the rest you still 

The Ego and Its Own 

remain good friends, and equal to each other, as men. Nevertheless 
the rest too is unlike in each; and the time when you no longer merely 
dissemble your opposition will be only when you entirely recognize it, 
and everybody asserts himself from top to toe as unique. Then the 
former opposition will assuredly be dissolved, but only because a 
stronger has taken it up into itself. 

Our weakness consists not in this, that we are in opposition to 
others, but in this, that we are not completely so; that we are not 
entirely severed from them, or that we seek a ‘communion [ Gemein - 
schaft\\ a ‘bond’, that in communion we have an ideal. One faith, one 
God, one idea, one hat, for all! If all were brought under one hat, 
certainly no one would any longer need to take off his hat before 

The last and most decided opposition, that of unique against 
unique, is at bottom beyond what is called opposition, but without 
having sunk back into ‘unity [Einheit]' and unison. As unique you 
have nothing in common with the other any longer, and therefore 
nothing divisive or hostile either; you are not seeking to be in the 
right against him before a third party, and are standing with him 
neither ‘on the ground of right’ nor on any other common ground. 
The opposition vanishes in complete - sei'erance or singleness [Einzig- 
keit\. This might indeed be regarded as the new point in common or 
a new parity, but here the parity consists precisely in the disparity, 
and is itself nothing but disparity, a par of disparity, and that only 
for him who institutes a ‘comparison’. 

The polemic against privilege forms a characteristic feature of lib- 
eralism, which fumes against ‘privilege’ because it itself appeals to 
‘right’. Further than to fuming it cannot carry this; for privileges do 
not fall before right falls, as they are only forms of right. But right 
falls apart into its nothingness when it is swallowed up by might, 
when one understands what is meant by ‘might goes before right’. 
All right explains itself then as privilege, and privilege itself as power, 
as - superior power. 

But must not the mighty combat against superior power show quite 
another face than the modest combat against privilege, which is to 
be fought out before a first judge, ‘right’, according to the judge’s 

Now, in conclusion, I have still to take back the half-way form of 
expression of which I was willing to make use only so long as I was 


The owner 

still rooting among the entrails of right, and letting the word at least 
stand. But, in fact, with the concept the word too loses its meaning. 
What I called ‘my right’ is no longer ‘right’ at all, because right can 
be bestowed only by a spirit, be it the spirit of nature or that of the 
species, of mankind, the Spirit of God or that of His Holiness or 
His Highness, etc. What I have without an entitling spirit I have 
without right; I have it solely and alone through my power, 

I do not demand any right, therefore I need not recognize any 
either. What I can get by force I get by force, and what I do not get 
by force I have no right to, nor do I give myself airs, or consolation, 
with my imprescriptible right. 

With absolute right, right itself passes away; the dominion of the 
‘concept of right’ is cancelled at the same time. For it is not to be 
forgotten that hitherto concepts, ideas, or principles ruled us, and 
that among these rulers the concept of right, or of justice, played one 
of the most important parts. 

Entitled or unentided - that does not concern me, if I am only 
powerful , I am of myself empowered , and need no other empowering 
or entitling. 

Right - is a wheel in the head, put there by a spook; power - that 
am I myself, I am the powerful one and owner of power. Right is 
above me, is absolute, and exists in one higher, as whose grace it 
flows to me: right is a gift of grace from the judge; power and might 
exist only in me the powerful and mighty. 

2 My intercourse 

In company, in society, the human demand at most can be satisfied, 
while the egoistic must always come short. 

Because it can hardly escape anybody that the present shows no 
such living interest in any question as in the ‘social’, one has to direct 
his gaze especially to society. Indeed, if the interest felt in it were 
less passionate and blinding, people would not so much, in looking 
at society, lose sight of the individuals in it, and would recognize that 
a society cannot become new so long as those who form and consti- 
tute it remain the old ones. If, for example, there was to arise in the 
Jewish people a society which should spread a new faith over the 
earth, these apostles could in no case remain Pharisees. 

As you are, so you present yourself, so you behave toward men: a 
hypocrite as a hypocrite, a Christian as a Christian. Therefore the 


The Ego and Its Own 

character of a society is determined by the character of its members: 
they are its creators. So much at least one must perceive even if one 
were not willing to put to the test the concept ‘society’ itself. 

Ever far from letting themselves come to their full development and 
consequence, men have hitherto not been able to found their societies 
on themselves ; or rather, they have been able only to found ‘societies’ 
and to live in societies. The societies were always persons, powerful 
persons, so-called ‘moral persons’, ghosts, before which the individ- 
ual had the appropriate wheel in his head, the fear of ghosts. As such 
ghosts they may most suitably be designated by the respective names 
‘people [Volk]' and ‘peoplet [Volkchen]’: the people of the patriarchs, 
the people of the Hellenes, etc., at last the - people of men, mankind 
(Anacharsis Cloots 202 was enthusiastic for the ‘nation’ of mankind); 
then every subdivision of this ‘people’, which could and must have 
its special societies, the Spanish, French people, etc.; within it again 
classes, cities, in short all kinds of corporations; lastly, tapering to 
the finest point, the little peoplet of the - family. Hence, instead of 
saying that the person that walked as ghost in all societies hitherto 
has been the people, there might also have been named the two 
extremes - namely, either ‘mankind’ or the ‘family’, both the most 
‘natural-born units’. We choose the word ‘people’ because its deri- 
vation has been brought into connection with the Greek polloi, the 
‘many’ or ‘the masses’, but still more because ‘national efforts’ are 
at present the order of the day, and because even the newest mutin- 
eers have not yet shaken off this deceptive person, although on the 
other hand the latter consideration must give the preference to the 
expression ‘mankind’, since on all sides they are going in for enthusi- 
asm over ‘mankind’. 

The people, then - mankind or the family - have hitherto, as it 
seems, played history: no egoistic interest was to come up in these 
societies, but solely general ones, national or popular interests, class 
interests, family interests, and ‘general human interests’. But who 
has brought to their fall the peoples whose decline history relates? 
Who but the egoist, who was seeking his satisfaction! If once an 
egoistic interest crept in, the society was ‘corrupted’ and moved 
towards its dissolution, as Rome proves with its highly developed 
system of private rights, or Christianity with the incessantly break- 
ing-in ‘rational self-determination’, ‘self-consciousness’, the ‘auton- 
omy of the spirit’, and so on. 


The owner 

The Christian people has produced two societies whose duration 
will keep equal measure with the permanence of that people: these 
are the societies state and church. Can they be called a union of 
egoists? Do we in them pursue an egoistic, personal, own interest, 
or do we pursue a popular, an interest of the Christian people, namely, 
a state, and church interest ? Can I and may I be myself in them? 
May I think and act as I will, may I reveal myself, live myself out, 
busy myself? Must I not leave untouched the majesty of the state, 
the sanctity of the Church? 

Well, I may not do so as I will. But shall I find in any society such 
an unmeasured freedom of allowances? Certainly no! Accordingly we 
might be content? Not a bit! It is a different thing whether I rebound 
from an ego or from a people, a generalization. There I am my 
opponent’s opponent, born his equal; here I am a despised opponent, 
bound and under a guardian: there I stand man to man; here I am 
a schoolboy who can accomplish nothing against his comrade because 
the latter has called father and mother to aid and has crept under 
the apron, while I am well scolded as an ill-bred brat, and I must 
not ‘argue’: there I fight against a bodily enemy; here against man- 
kind, against a generalization, against a ‘majesty’, against a spook. 
But to me no majesty, nothing sacred, is a limit; nothing that I know 
how to overpower. Only that which I cannot overpower still limits 
my might; and I of limited might am temporarily a limited I, not 
limited by the might outside me, but limited by my own still deficient 
might, by my own impotence. However, ‘the guard dies, but does not 
surrender!’ Above all, only a bodily opponent! 

I dare meet every foeman 

Whom I can see and measure with my eye, 

Whose mettle fires my mettle for the fight - etc . 203 

Many privileges have indeed been cancelled with time, but solely 
for the sake of the common weal, of the state and the state’s weal, 
by no means for the strengthening of me. Vassalage was abrogated 
only that a single liege lord, the lord of the people, the monarchical 
power, might be strengthened: vassalage under the one became yet 
more rigorous thereby. Only in favour of the monarch, be he called 
‘prince’ or ‘law’, have privileges fallen. In France the citizens are not, 
indeed, vassals of the king, but are instead vassals of the ‘law’ (the 
Charter). Subordination was retained, only the Christian State recog- 

The Ego and Its Own 

nized that man cannot serve two masters (the lord of the manor and 
the prince); therefore one obtained all the prerogatives; now he can 
again place one above another, he can make ‘men in high place’. 

But of what concern to me is the common weal? The common 
weal as such is not my weal , but only the furthest extremity of self- 
renunciation . The common weal may cheer aloud while I must ‘lie 
down ’; 204 the state may shine while I starve. In what lies the folly of 
the political liberals but in their opposing the people to the govern- 
ment and talking of people’s rights? So there is the people going to 
be of age, etc. As if one who has no mouth [Mund] could be of age 
[mundig \\ 205 Only the individual is able to be of age. Thus the whole 
question of the liberty of the press is turned upside down when it is 
laid claim to as a ‘right of the people’. It is only a right, or better the 
might, of the individual. If a people has liberty of the press, then /, 
although in the midst of this people, have it not; a liberty of the 
people is not my liberty, and the liberty of the press as a liberty of 
the people must have at its side a press law directed against me. 

This must be insisted on all around against the present-day efforts 
for liberty: 

Liberty of the people is not my liberty! 

Let us admit these categories, liberty of the people and right of 
the people: for example, the right of the people that everybody may 
bear arms. Does one not forfeit such a right? One cannot forfeit his 
own right, but may well forfeit a right that belongs not to me but to 
the people. I may be locked up for the sake of the liberty of the 
people; I may, under sentence, incur the loss of the right to bear 

Liberalism appears as the last attempt at a creation of the liberty 
of the people, a liberty of the commune, of ‘society’, of the general, 
of mankind; the dream of a humanity, a people, a commune, a 
‘society’, that shall be of age. 

A people cannot be free otherwise than at the individual’s expense; 
for it is not the individual that is the main point in this liberty, but 
the people. The freer the people, the more bound the individual; 
the Athenian people, precisely at its freest time, created ostracism, 
banished the atheists, poisoned the most honest thinker. 

How they do praise Socrates for his conscientiousness, which 
makes him resist the advice to get away from the dungeon! He is a 
fool that he concedes to the Athenians a right to condemn him. 


The owner 

Therefore it certainly serves him right; why then does he remain 
standing on an equal footing with the Athenians? Why does he not 
break with them? Had he known, and been able to know, what he 
was, he would have conceded to such judges no claim, no right. That 
he did not escape was just his weakness, his delusion of still having 
something in common with the Athenians, or the opinion that he was 
a member, a mere member of this people. But he was rather this 
people itself in person, and could only be his own judge. There was 
no judge over him, as he himself had really pronounced a public sen- 
tence on himself and rated himself worthy of the Prytaneum . 206 He 
should have stuck to that, and, as he had uttered no sentence of 
death against himself, should have despised that of the Athenians too 
and escaped. But he subordinated himself and recognized in the 
people his judge', he seemed little to himself before the majesty of the 
people. That he subjected himself to might (to which alone he could 
succumb) as to a ‘right’ was treason against himself: it was virtue. To 
Christ, who, it is alleged, refrained from using the power over his 
heavenly legions , 207 the same scrupulousness is thereby ascribed by 
the narrators. Luther did very well and wisely to have the safety of 
his journey to Worms 208 warranted to him in black and white, and 
Socrates should have known that the Athenians were his enemies, he 
alone his judge. The self-deception of a ‘reign of law’, etc., should 
have given way to the perception that the relation was a relation of 

It was with hair-splitting and intrigues that Greek liberty ended. 
Why? Because the ordinary Greeks could still less attain that logical 
conclusion which not even their hero of thought, Socrates, was able 
to draw. What then is hair-splitting but a way of utilizing something 
established without doing away with it? I might add ‘for one’s own 
advantage’, but, you see, that lies in ‘utilizing’. Such quibblers are 
the theologians who ‘wrest’ and ‘force’ God’s word; what would they 
have to wrest if it were not for the ‘established’ Word of God? So 
those liberals who only shake and wrest the ‘established order’. They 
are all perverters, like those perverters of the law. Socrates recognized 
law, right; the Greeks constantly retained the authority of right and 
law. If, with this recognition they wanted nevertheless to assert their 
advantage, every one his own, then they had to seek it in perversion 
of the law, or intrigue. Alcibiades , 209 an intriguer of genius, intro- 
duces the period of Athenian ‘decay’; the Spartan Lysander 210 and 

The Ego and Its Own 

others show that intrigue had become universally Greek. Greek law , 
on which the Greek states rested, had to be perverted and undermined 
by the egoists within these states, and the states went down that the 
individuals might become free, the Greek people fell because the 
individuals cared less for this people than for themselves. In general, 
all states, constitutions, churches, have sunk by the secession of indi- 
viduals; for the individual is the irreconcilable enemy of every gener- 
ality \Allgemeinheit], every tie, every fetter. Yet people fancy to this 
day that man needs ‘sacred ties’: he, the deadly enemy of every ‘tie’. 
The history of the world shows that no tie has yet remained unrent, 
shows that man tirelessly defends himself against ties of every sort; 
and yet, blinded, people think up new ties again and again, and think 
that they have arrived at the right one if one puts upon them the tie of 
a so-called free constitution, a beautiful, constitutional tie; decoration 

ribbons, the ties of confidence between ‘ ’, do seem gradually to 

have become somewhat infirm, but people have made no further 
progress than from leading reins to braces and collars. 

Everything sacred is a tie , a fetter . 

Everything sacred is and must be perverted by perverters of the 
law; therefore our present time has multitudes of such perverters in 
all spheres. They are preparing the way for the break-up of law, for 

Poor Athenians, who are accused of hair-splitting and sophistry! 
Poor Alcibiades, of intrigue! Why, that was just your best point, your 
first step in freedom. Your Aeschylus , 211 Herodotus , 212 etc., only 
wanted to have a free Greek people', you were the first to surmise 
something of your freedom. 

A people represses those who tower above its majesty , by ostracism 
against too-powerful citizens, by the Inquisition against the heretics 
of the Church, by the - Inquisition against traitors in the state. 

For the people is concerned only with its self-assertion; it demands 
‘patriotic self-sacrifice’ from everybody. To it, accordingly, every one 
in himself is indifferent, a nothing, and it cannot do, not even suffer, 
what the individual and he alone must do - namely, turn him to 
account Every people, every state, is unjust toward the egoist. 

As long as there still exists even one institution which the individual 
may not dissolve, the ownness and self-appurtenance of me is still 
very remote. How can I be free when I must bind myself by oath to 
a constitution, a charter, a law, ‘vow body and soul’ to my people? 


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How can I be my own when my faculties may develop only so far as 
they ‘do not disturb the harmony of society’ (W eitling)? 

The fall of peoples and mankind will invite me to my rise. 

Listen, even as I am writing this, the bells begin to sound, that 
they may jingle in for tomorrow the festival of the thousand years’ 
existence of our dear Germany. 213 Sound, sound its knell! You do 
sound solemn enough, as if your tongue was moved by the presenti- 
ment that it is giving convoy to a corpse. The German nation and 
German peoples have behind them a history of a thousand years: 
what a long life! O, go to rest, never to rise again - that all may 
become free whom you so long have held in fetters. - The people is 
dead. - Up with me\ 

0 thou my much-tormented German people - what was thy tor- 
ment? It was the torment of a thought that cannot create itself a body, 
the torment of a walking spirit that dissolves into nothing at every 
cock-crow and yet pines for deliverance and fulfilment. In me too 
thou hast lived long, thou dear - thought, thou dear - spook. Already 
I almost fancied I had found the word of thy deliverance, discovered 
flesh and bones for the wandering spirit; then I hear them sound, 
the bells that usher thee into eternal rest; then the last hope fades 
out, then the notes of the last love die away, then I depart from the 
desolate house of those who now are dead and enter at the door of 
the - living one: 

For only he who is alive is in the right. 214 

Farewell, thou dream of so many millions; farewell, thou who hast 
tyrannized over thy children for a thousand years! 

Tomorrow they carry thee to the grave; soon thy sisters, the 
peoples, will follow thee. But, when they have all followed, then - 
mankind is buried, and I am my own, I am the laughing heir! 

The word society [Gesellschafi] has its origin in the word hall [Sa/j. 
If one hall encloses many persons, then the hall causes these persons 
to be in society. They are in society, and at most constitute a drawing- 
room society by talking in the traditional forms of drawing-room 
speech. When it comes to real intercourse , this is to be regarded as 
independent of society: it may occur or be lacking, without altering 
the nature of what is named society. Those who are in the hall are 
a society even as mute persons, or when they put each other off solely 


The Ego and Its Own 

with empty phrases of courtesy. Intercourse is mutuality, it is the 
action, the commercium , 213 of individuals; society is only community' 
of the hall, and even the statues of a museum-hall are in society, they 
are ‘grouped’. People are accustomed to say ‘they occupy [habe inne ] 
this hall in common’, but the case is rather that the hall has us 
within [inne] or in it. So far the natural signification of the word 
society. In this it comes out that society is not generated by me and 
you, but by a third factor which makes associates out of us two, and 
that it is just this third factor that is the creative one, that which 
creates society. 

Just so a prison society or prison companionship [ Genossenschaft ] 
(those who enjoy [geniefien] the same prison). Here we already hit 
upon a third factor fuller of significance than was that merely local 
one, the hall. Prison no longer means a space only, but a space with 
express reference to its inhabitants: for it is a prison only through 
being destined for prisoners, without whom it would be a mere build- 
ing. What gives a common stamp to those who are gathered in it? 
Evidently the prison, since it is only by means of the prison that they 
are prisoners. What, then, determines the manner of life of the prison 
society? The prison! What determines their intercourse? The prison 
too, perhaps? Certainly they can enter upon intercourse only as pris- 
oners, only so far as the prison laws allow it; but that they themselves 
hold intercourse, I with you, this the prison cannot bring to pass; on 
the contrary, it must have an eye to guarding against such egoistic, 
purely personal intercourse (and only as such is it really intercourse 
between me and you). That we communally execute a job, run a 
machine, effectuate anything in general - for this a prison will indeed 
provide; but that I forget that I am a prisoner, and engage in inter- 
course with you who likewise disregard it, brings danger to the prison, 
and not only cannot be caused by it, but must not even be permitted. 
For this reason the saintly and moral-minded French chamber 
decides to introduce solitary confinement, and other saints will do 
the like in order to cut off ‘demoralizing intercourse’. Imprisonment 
is the established and - sacred condition, to injure which no attempt 
must be made. The slightest push of that kind is punishable, as is 
every uprising against a sacred thing by which man is to be charmed 
[befangen] and chained [gefangen]. 

Like the hall, the prison [Gefangnis] does form a society, a com- 
panionship, a communion (as in a communion of labour), but no 


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intercourse , no reciprocity, no union. On the contrary, every union in 
the prison bears within it the dangerous seed of a ‘plot’, which under 
favourable circumstances might spring up and bear fruit. 

Yet one does not usually enter the prison voluntarily, and seldom 
remains in it voluntarily either, but cherishes the egoistic desire for 
liberty. Here, therefore, it sooner becomes manifest that personal 
intercourse is in hostile relations to the prison society and tends to 
the dissolution of this very society, this joint incarceration. 

Let us therefore look about for such communions as, it seems, we 
remain in gladly and voluntarily, without wanting to endanger them 
by our egoistic impulses. 

As a communion of the required sort the family offers itself in the 
first place. Parents, husbands and wife, children, brothers and sisters, 
represent a whole or form a family, for the further widening of which 
the collateral relatives also may be made to serve if taken into account. 
The family is a true communion only when the law of the family, 
piety , 216 or family love, is observed by its members. A son to whom 
parents, brothers, and sisters have become indifferent has been a son; 
for, as the sonship no longer shows itself efficacious, it has no greater 
significance than the long-past connection of mother and child by 
the umbilical cord. That one has once lived in this bodily juncture 
cannot as a fact be undone; and so far one remains irrevocably this 
mother’s son and the brother of the rest of her children; but it would 
come to a lasting connection only by lasting piety, this spirit of the 
family. Individuals are members of a family in the full sense only 
when they make the persistence of the family their task; only as con- 
servative do they keep aloof from doubting their basis, the family. To 
every member of the family one thing must be fixed and sacred - 
namely, the family itself, or, more expressively, piety. That the family 
is to persist remains to its member, so long as he keeps himself free 
from that egoism which is hostile to the family, an unassailable truth. 
In a word: If the family is sacred, then nobody who belongs to it may 
secede from it; else he becomes a ‘criminal’ against the family: he 
may never pursue an interest hostile to the family, form a misalliance. 
He who does this has ‘dishonoured the family’, ‘put it to shame’, etc. 

Now, if in an individual the egoistic impulse has not force enough, 
he complies and makes a marriage which suits the claims of the 
family, takes a rank which harmonizes with its position, and the like; 
in short, he ‘does honour to the family’. 


The Ego and Its Own 

If, on the contrary, the egoistic blood flows fierily enough in his 
veins, he prefers to become a ‘criminal’ against the family and to 
throw off its laws. 

Which of the two lies nearer my heart, the good of the family 
or my good? In innumerable cases both go peacefully together; the 
advantage of the family is at the same time mine, and vice versa. Then 
it is hard to decide whether I am thinking selfishly [eigenniitzig] or for 
the common benefit \gemeinniitzig] and perhaps I complacently flatter 
myself with my unselfishness. But there comes the day when a 
necessity of choice makes me tremble, when I have it in mind to 
dishonour my family tree, to affront parents, brothers, and kindred. 
What then? Now it will appear how lam disposed at the bottom of 
my heart; now it will be revealed whether piety ever stood above 
egoism for me, now the selfish one can no longer skulk behind the 
semblance of unselfishness. A wish rises in my soul, and, growing 
from hour to hour, becomes a passion. To whom does it occur at 
first blush that the slightest thought which may result adversely to 
the spirit of the family, piety bears within it a transgression against 
this? Indeed, who at once, in the first moment, becomes completely 
conscious of the matter? It happens so with Juliet in Romeo and 
Juliet . 211 The unruly passion can at last no longer be tamed, and 
undermines the building of piety. You will say, indeed, it is from 
self-will that the family casts out of its bosom those wilful ones that 
grant more of a hearing to their passion than to piety; the good 
Protestants used the same excuse with much success against the 
Catholics, and believed in it themselves. But it is just a subterfuge 
to roll the fault off oneself, nothing more. The Catholics had regard 
for the common bond of the church, and thrust those heretics from 
them only because these did not have so much regard for the bond 
of the church as to sacrifice their convictions to it; the former, there- 
fore, held the bond fast, because the bond, the Catholic, that is the 
common and united church, was sacred to them; the latter, on the 
contrary, disregarded the bond. Just so those who lack piety. They 
are not thrust out, but thrust themselves out, prizing their passion, 
their wilfulness, higher than the bond of the family. 

But now sometimes a wish glimmers in a less passionate and wilful 
heart than Juliet’s. The pliable girl brings herself as a sacrifice to the 
peace of the family. One might say that here too selfishness prevailed, 
for the decision came from the feeling that the pliable girl felt herself 


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more satisfied by the unity of the family than by the fulfilment of her 
wish. That might be; but what if there remained a sure sign that 
egoism had been sacrificed to piety? What if, even after the wish that 
had been directed against the peace of the family was sacrificed, it 
remained at least as a recollection of a ‘sacrifice’ brought to a sacred 
tie? What if the pliable girl were conscious of having left her self-will 
unsatisfied and humbly subjected herself to a higher power? Sub- 
jected and sacrificed, because the superstition of piety exercised its 
dominion over her! 

There egoism won, here piety wins and the egoistic heart bleeds; 
there egoism was strong, here it was - weak. But the weak, as we 
have long known, are the - unselfish. For them, for these its weak 
members, the family cares, because they belong to the family, do not 
belong to themselves and care for themselves. This weakness Hegel 
praises when he wants to have match-making left to the choice of 
the parents . 218 

As a sacred communion to which, among the rest, the individual 
owes obedience, the family has the judicial function also vested in it; 
such a ‘family court’ is described in the Cabanis of Willibald Alexis . 219 
There the father, in the name of the ‘family council’, puts the intrac- 
table son among the soldiers and thrusts him out of the family, in 
order to cleanse the besmirched family again by means of this act of 
punishment. - The most consistent development of family responsi- 
bility is contained in Chinese law, according to which the whole 
family has to expiate the individual’s fault. 

Today, however, the arm of family power seldom reaches far 
enough to take seriously in hand the punishment of apostates (in 
most cases the state protects even against disinheritance). The crimi- 
nal against the family (family-criminal) flees into the domain of the 
state and is free, as the state-criminal who gets away to America is 
no longer reached by the punishments of his state. He who has 
shamed his family, the graceless son, is protected against the family’s 
punishment because the state, this protecting lord, takes away from 
family punishment its ‘sacredness’ and profanes it, decreeing that it 
is only - ‘revenge’: it restrains punishment, this sacred family right, 
because before its, the state’s, ‘sacredness’ the subordinate sacr- 
edness of the family always pales and loses its sanctity as soon as it 
comes in conflict with this higher sacredness. Without the conflict, 
the state lets pass the lesser sacredness of the family; but in the 


The Eg$ and Its Own 

opposite case it even commands crime against the family, charging, 
for example, the son to refuse obedience to his parents as soon as 
they want to beguile him to a crime against the state. 

Well, the egoist has broken the ties of the family and found in the 
state a lord to shelter him against the grievously affronted spirit of 
the family. But where has he run now? Straight into a new society , in 
which his egoism is awaited by the same snares and nets that it has 
just escaped. For the state is likewise a society, not a union; it is 
the broadened family (‘sovereign lord - sovereign lady - sovereign 

What is called a state is a tissue and plexus of dependence and 
adherence; it is a belonging together [Zusammengehdrigkeit], a holding 
together, in which those who are placed together fit themselves to 
each other, or, in short, mutually depend on each other: it is the order 
of this dependence {Abhangigkeit ]. Suppose the king, whose authority 
lends authority to all down to the beadle, should vanish: still all in 
whom the will for order was awake would keep order erect against 
the disorders of bestiality. If disorder were victorious, the state would 
be at an end. 

But is this thought of love, to fit ourselves to each other, to adhere 
to each other and depend on each other, really capable of winning 
us? According to this the state should be love realized, the being for 
each other and living for each other of all. Is not self-will being lost 
while we attend to the will for order? Will people not be satisfied 
when order is cared for by authority, when authority sees to it that 
no one ‘gets in the way of’ another; when, then, the herd is judiciously 
distributed or ordered? Why, then everything is in ‘the best order’, 
and it is this best order that is called - state! 

Our societies and states are without our making them, are united 
without our uniting, are predestined and established, or have an inde- 
pendent standing [ Bestand ] of their own, are the indissolubly estab- 
lished against us egoists. The fight of the world today is, as it is said, 
directed against the ‘established [Bestehende]’ . Yet people are wont to 
misunderstand this as if it were only that what is now established was 
to be exchanged for another, a better, established system. But war 
might rather be declared against establishment itself, the state , not a 
particular state, not any such thing as the mere condition of the state 
at the time; it is not another state (such as a ‘people’s state’) that men 


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aim at, but their union, uniting, this ever-fluid uniting of everything 
standing. - A state exists even without my co-operation: I am born 
in it, brought up in it, under obligations to it, and must ‘do it homage 
[huldigen]\ It takes me up into its ‘favour [Huld\\ and I live by its 
‘grace’. Thus the independent establishment of the state founds my 
lack of independence; its condition as a ‘natural growth’, its organism, 
demands that my nature not grow freely, but be cut to fit it. That it 
may be able to unfold in natural growth, it applies to me the shears 
of ‘civilization’; it gives me an education and culture adapted to it, 
not to me, and teaches me to respect the laws, to refrain from injury 
to state property (that is, private property), to reverence divine and 
earthly highness, etc.; in short, it teaches me to be - unpunishable , 
‘sacrificing’ my ownness to ‘sacredness’ (everything possible is sacred; 
property, others’ life, etc.). In this consists the sort of civilization and 
culture that the state is able to give me: it brings me up to be a 
‘serviceable instrument’, a ‘serviceable member of society’. 

This every state must do, the people’s state as well as the absolute 
or constitutional one. It must do so as long as we rest in the error 
that it is an /, as which it then applies to itself the name of a ‘moral, 
mystical, or political person’. I, who really am I, must pull off this 
lion-skin of the I from the strutting thistle-eater. What manifold 
robbery have I not put up with in the history of the world! There I 
let sun, moon, and stars, cats and crocodiles, receive the honour of 
ranking as I; there Jehovah, Allah, and Our Father came and were 
invested with the I; there families, tribes, peoples, and at last actually 
mankind, came and were honoured as I’s; there the church, the state, 
came with the pretension to be I - and I gazed calmly on all. What 
wonder if then there was always a real I too that joined the company 
and affirmed in my face that it was not my you but my real I. Why, 
the Son of Man par excellence had done the like; why should not a son 
of man do it too? So I saw my I always above me and outside me, 
and could never really come to myself. 

I never believed in myself; I never believed in my present, I saw 
myself only in the future. The boy believes he will be a proper I, a 
proper fellow, only when he has become a man; the man thinks, only 
in the other world will he be something proper. And, to enter more 
closely upon reality at once, even the best are today still persuading 
each other that one must have received into himself the state, his 
people, mankind, and what not, in order to be a real I, a ‘free bur- 


The Ego and Its Own 

gher’, a ‘citizen’, a ‘free or true man’; they too see the truth and 
reality of me in the reception of an alien I and devotion to it. And 
what sort of an I? An I that is neither an I nor a you, a fancied I, a 

While in the Middle Ages the church could well brook many states 
living united in it, the states learned after the Reformation, especially 
after the Thirty Years War, to tolerate many churches (confessions) 
gathering under one crown. But all states are religious and, as the 
case may be, ‘Christian States’, and make it their task to force the 
intractable, the ‘egoists’, under the bond of the unnatural, that is, 
Christianize them. All arrangements of the Christian State have the 
object of Christianizing the people. Thus the court has the object of 
forcing people to justice, the school that of forcing them to mental 
culture - in short, the object of protecting those who act Christianly 
against those who act un- Christianly, of bringing Christian action to 
dominion , of making it powerful. Among these means of force the state 
counted the church too, it demanded a - particular religion from 
everybody. Dupin 220 said lately against the clergy, ‘instruction and 
education belong to the state’. 

Certainly everything that regards the principle of morality is a state 
affair. Hence it is that the Chinese state meddles so much in family 
concerns, and one is nothing there if one is not first of all a good 
child to his parents. Family concerns are altogether state concerns 
with us too, only that our state - puts confidence in the families 
without painful oversight; it holds the family bound by the marriage 
tie, and this tie cannot be broken without it. 

But that the state makes me responsible for my principles, and 
demands certain ones from me, might make me ask, what concern 
has it with the ‘wheel in my head’ (principle)? Very much, for the 
state is the - ruling principle. It is supposed that in divorce matters, 
in marriage law in general, the question is of the proportion of rights 
between church and states. Rather, the question is of whether any- 
thing sacred is to rule over man, be it called faith or ethical law 
(morality). The state behaves as the same ruler that the church was. 
The latter rests on godliness, the former on morality. 

People talk of the tolerance, the leaving opposite tendencies free, 
and the like, by which civilized states are distinguished. Certainly 
some are strong enough to look with complacency on even the most 


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unrestrained meetings, while others instruct their officers to go hunt- 
ing for tobacco-pipes. Yet for one state as for another the play of 
individuals among themselves, their buzzing to and fro, their daily 
life, is an incident which it must be content to leave to themselves 
because it can do nothing with this. Many, indeed, still strain out 
gnats and swallow camels , 221 while others are shrewder. Individuals 
are ‘freer’ in the latter, because less pestered. But I am free in no 
state. The lauded tolerance of states is simply a tolerating of the 
‘harmless’, the ‘not dangerous’; it is only elevation above pettymind- 
edness, only a more estimable, grander, prouder - despotism. A cer- 
tain state seemed for a while to intend to be pretty well elevated above 
literary combats, which might be carried on with all heat; England is 
elevated above popular turmoil and - tobacco-smoking. But woe to 
the literature that deals blows at the state itself, woe to the mobs that 
‘endanger’ the state. In that certain state they dream of a ‘free sci- 
ence’, in England of a ‘free popular life’. 

The state does let individuals play as freely as possible, only they 
must not be in earnest , must not forget it. Man must not carry on 
intercourse with man unconcernedly , not without ‘superior oversight 
and mediation’. I must not execute all that I am able to, but only so 
much as the state allows; I must not turn to account my thoughts, 
nor my work, nor, in general, anything of mine. 

The state always has the sole purpose to limit, tame, subordinate, 
the individual - to make him subject to some generality or other; it 
lasts only so long as the individual is not all in all, and it is only the 
clearly-marked restriction of me , my limitation, my slavery. Never does 
a state aim to bring in the free activity of individuals, but always that 
which is bound to the purpose of the state. Through the state nothing 
in common [ Gemeinsames ] comes to pass either, as little as one can 
call a piece of cloth the common work of all the individual parts of 
a machine; it is rather the work of the whole machine as a unit, 
machine work. In the same style, everything is done by the state machine 
too; for it moves the clockwork of the individual minds, none of which 
follow their own impulse. The state seeks to hinder every free activity 
by its censorship, its supervision, its police, and holds this hindering 
to be its duty, because it is in truth a duty of self-preservation. The 
state wants to make something out of man, therefore there live in it 
only made men; every one who wants to be his own self is its opponent 


The Ego and Its Own 

and is nothing. ‘He is nothing’ means as much as, the state does not 
make use of him, grants him no position, no office, no trade, and the 

Edgar Bauer , 222 in Die liber alen Bestrebungen, a is still dreaming of a 
‘government which, proceeding out of the people, can never stand 
in opposition to it’/ He does indeed himself take back the word 

In the republic no government at all obtains, but only an executive 
authority. An authority which proceeds purely and alone out of 
the people; which has not an independent power, independent 
principles, independent officers, over against the people; but 
which has its foundation, the fountain of its power and of its 
principles, in the sole, supreme authority of the state, in the 
people. The concept government, therefore, is not at all suitable 
in the people’s state/ 

But the thing remains the same. That which has ‘proceeded, been 
founded, sprung from the fountain’ becomes something ‘indepen- 
dent’ and, like a child delivered from the womb, enters upon oppo- 
sition at once. The government, if it were nothing independent and 
opposing, would be nothing at all. 

‘In the free state there is no government’/ etc. This surely 
means that the people, when it is the sovereign , does not let itself 
be conducted by a superior authority. Is it perchance different in 
absolute monarchy? Is there there for the sovereign , perchance, a 
government standing over him? Over the sovereign, be he called 
prince or people, there never stands a government: that is under- 
stood of itself. But over me there will stand a government in every 
‘state’, in the absolute as well as in the republican or ‘free’. I am 
as badly off in one as in the other. 

The republic is nothing whatever but - absolute monarchy; for it 
makes no difference whether the monarch is called prince or people, 

* What was said in the concluding remarks after humane liberalism holds good of the 
following - namely, that it was likewise written immediately after the appearance of 
the book cited. 

b Edgar Bauer, Die liberalen Bestrebungen in Deutschland (Zurich and Winterthur, 1843), 
no. 2, p. 50. 
f Ibid. p. 69. 
d Ibid. p. 94. 


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both being a ‘majesty’. Constitutionalism itself proves that nobody is 
able and willing to be only an instrument. The ministers domineer 
over their master the prince, the deputies over their master the 
people. Here, then, the parties at least are already free, namely, the 
office-holders’ party (so-called people’s party). The prince must con- 
form to the will of the ministers, the people dance to the pipe of the 
chambers. Constitutionalism is further than the republic, because it 
is the State in incipient dissolution. 

Edgar Bauer denies 0 that the people is a ‘personality’ in the 
constitutional state; what difference, then, in the republic. Well, 
in the constitutional state the people is - a party , and a party is 
surely a ‘personality’ if one is once resolved to talk of a ‘political’* 
moral person anyhow. The fact is that a moral person, be it called 
people’s party or people or even ‘the Lord’, is in no way a person, 
but a spook. 

Further, Edgar Bauer goes on: ‘guardianship is the characteristic 
of a government’/ Truly, still more that of a people and ‘people’s 
state’; it is the characteristic of all dominion. A people’s state, which 
‘unites in itself all completeness of power’, the ‘absolute master’, 
cannot let me become powerful. And what a chimera, to be no longer 
willing to call the ‘people’s officials’ ‘servants, instruments’, because 
they ‘execute the free, rational law-will of the people’!^ He thinks: 
‘Only by all official circles subordinating themselves to the govern- 
ment’s views can unity be brought into the state’;' but his ‘people’s 
state’ is to have ‘unity’ too; how will a lack of subordination be allowed 
there? Subordination to the - people’s will. 

‘In the constitutional state it is the regent and his disposition that 
the whole structure of government rests on in the end.^ How would 
that be otherwise in the ‘people’s state’? Shall / not there be governed 
by the people’s disposition too, and does it make a difference for me 
whether I see myself kept in dependence by the prince’s disposition 
or by the people’s disposition, so-called ‘public opinion’? If depen- 
dence means as much as ‘religious relation’, as Edgar Bauer rightly 
alleges, then in the people’s state the people remains for me the 
superior power, the ‘majesty’ (for God and prince have their proper 
essence in ‘majesty’) to which I stand in religious relations. - Like 

a Ibid. p. 56. h Ibid. p. 76. f Ibid. p. 69. 

d Ibid. p. 73. ' Ibid. p. 74. f Ibid. p. 130. 


The Ego and Its Own 

the sovereign regent, the sovereign people too would be reached by 
no law. Edgar Bauer’s whole attempt comes to a change of masters. 
Instead of wanting to make the people free, he should have had his 
mind on the sole realizable freedom, his own. 

In the constitutional state absolutism itself has at last come in con- 
flict with itself, as it has been shattered into a duality; the government 
wants to be absolute, and the people wants to be absolute. These 
two absolutes will wear out against each other. 

Edgar Bauer inveighs against the determination of the regent by 
birth, by chance. But, when ‘the people’ have become ‘the sole power 
in the state’/ have we not then in it a master from chance ? Why, 
what is the people? The people has always been only the body of the 
government: it is many under one hat (a prince’s hat) or many under 
one constitution. And the constitution is the - prince. Princes and 
peoples will persist so long as both do not collapse , that is, fall together. 
If under one constitution there are many ‘peoples’ - as in the ancient 
Persian monarchy and today - then these ‘peoples’ rank only as ‘prov- 
inces’. For me the people is in any case an - accidental power, a 
force of nature, an enemy that I must overcome. 

What is one to think of under the name of an ‘organized’*' people? 
A people ‘that no longer has a government’, that governs itself. In 
which, therefore, no ego stands out prominently; a people organized 
by ostracism. The banishment of egos, ostracism, makes the people 

If you speak of the people, you must speak of the prince; for the 
people, if it is to be a subject and make history, must, like everything 
that acts, have a head , its ‘supreme head’. Weitling sets this forth 
in his ‘ Trio ’, 223 and Proudhon declares, ‘une societe, pour ainsi dire 
acephale, ne peut vivre\ 22ic 

The vox populi is now always held up to us, and ‘public opinion’ 
is to rule our princes. Certainly the vox populi is at the same time vox 
dev, but is either of any use, and is not the vox principis 225 also vox 
dei ? 

At this point the ‘nationals’ may be brought to mind. To demand 
of the thirty-eight states of Germany that they shall act as one 

“ Ibid. p. 132. 

* Ibid. p. 132. 

f Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, De la creation de I’ordre dans I’humanite ou principes d’organis- 
ation politique (Paris, 1843), p. 485. 


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nation can only be put alongside the senseless desire that thirty- 
eight swarms of bees, led by thirty-eight queen-bees, shall unite 
themselves into one swarm. Bees they all remain; but it is not the 
bees as bees that belong together and can join themselves together, 
it is only that the subject bees are connected with the ruling queens. 
Bees and peoples are destitute of will, and the instinct of their 
queens leads them. 

If one were to point the bees to their beehood, in which at any 
rate they are all equal to each other, one would be doing the same 
thing that they are now doing so stormily in pointing the Germans 
to their Germanhood [. Deutschtum ]. Why, Germanhood is just like 
beehood in this very thing, that it bears in itself the necessity of 
cleavages and separations, yet without pushing on to the last separ- 
ation, where, with the complete carrying through of the process of 
separating, its end appears: I mean, to the separation of man from 
man. Germanhood does indeed divide itself into different peoples 
and tribes, beehives; but the individual who has the quality of being 
a German is still as powerless as the isolated bee. And yet only 
individuals can enter into union with each other, and all alliances 
and leagues of peoples are and remain mechanical compoundings, 
because those who come together, at least so far as the ‘peoples’ are 
regarded as the ones that have come together, are destitute of will. 
Only with the last separation does separation itself end and change 
to unification. 

Now the nationals are exerting themselves to set up the abstract, 
lifeless unity of beehood; but the self-owned are going to fight for 
the unity willed by their own will, for union. This is the token of all 
reactionary wishes, that they want to set up something general , 
abstract, an empty, lifeless concept , in distinction from which the self- 
owned aspire to relieve the robust, lively particular from the trashy 
burden of generalities. The reactionaries would be glad to smite a 
people , a nation , forth from the earth; the self-owned have before their 
eyes only themselves. In essentials the two efforts that are just now 
the order of the day - namely, the restoration of provincial rights and 
of the old tribal divisions (Franks, Bavarians etc., Lausitz 226 etc.), and 
the restoration of the entire nationality - coincide in one. But the 
Germans will come into unison, unite themselves , only when they 
knock over their beehood as well as all the beehives; in other words, 
when they are more than - Germans: only then can they form a 


The Ego and Its Own 

‘German Union’. They must not want to turn back into their 
nationality, into the womb, in order to be born again, but let every 
one turn in to himself. How ridiculously sentimental when one 
German grasps another’s hand and presses it with sacred awe because 
‘he too is a German’! With that he is something great! But this will 
certainly still be thought touching as long as people are enthusiastic 
for ‘brotherliness’, as long as they have a family disposition ’. From 
the superstition of ‘piety’, from ‘brotherliness’ or ‘childlikeness’ or 
however else the soft-hearted piety-phrases run - from the family 
spirit - the nationals, who want to have a great family of Germans , 
cannot liberate themselves. 

Aside from this, the so-called nationals would only have to under- 
stand themselves rightly in order to lift themselves out of their con- 
nection with the good-natured Teutomaniacs. For the uniting for 
material ends and interests, which they demand of the Germans, 
comes to nothing else than a voluntary union. Carriere , 227 inspired, 
cries out: ‘Railways are to the more penetrating eye the way to a life 
of the people such as has not yet anywhere appeared in such signifi- 
cance.’" Quite right, it will be a life of the people that has nowhere 
appeared, because it is not a - life of the people. - So Carriere 
then combats himself: ‘Pure humanity or manhood cannot be better 
represented than by a people fulfilling its mission .’^ 1 Why, by this 
nationality only is represented. ‘Washed-out generality is lower than 
the form complete in itself, which is itself a whole, and lives as a 
living member of the truly general, the organized.’ Why, the people 
is this very ‘washed-out generality’, and it is only a man that is the 
‘form complete in itself’. 

The impersonality of what they call ‘people, nation’, is clear also 
from this: that a people which wants to bring its I into view to the 
best of its power, puts at its head the ruler without will. It finds itself 
in the alternative either to be subjected to a prince who realizes only 
himself his individual pleasure - then it does not recognize in the 
‘absolute master’ its own will, the so-called will of the people - or to 
seat on the throne a prince who gives effect to no will of his own - 
then it has a prince without will , whose place some ingenious clock- 
work would perhaps fill just as well. - Therefore insight need go 

8 Moriz Carriere, Der Kolner Dorn als freie deutsche Kirche. Gedanken iiber Nationalitat, 
Kunst und Religion beim Wiederbeginn des Baues (Stuttgart, 1843), p. 4. 
b Ibid. p. xo. 


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only a step further: then it becomes clear of itself that the I of the 
people is an impersonal, ‘spiritual’ power, the - law. The people’s I, 
therefore, is a - spook, not an I. I am I only by this, that I make 
myself; that it is not another who makes me, but I must be my own 
work. But how is it with this I of the people? Chance plays it into the 
people’s hand, chance gives it this or that born lord, accidents procure 
it the chosen one; he is not its (the ‘ sovereign ’ people’s) product, as I 
am my product. Conceive of one wanting to talk you into believing 
that you were not your I, but Hans or Thomas was your I! But so it 
is with the people, and rightly. For the people has an I as little as 
the eleven planets counted together have an I, though they revolve 
around a common centre. 

Bailly’s utterance is representative of the slave-disposition that per- 
sons manifest before the sovereign people, as before the prince. ‘I 
have’, says he, ‘no longer any extra reason when the general reason 
has pronounced itself. My first law was the nation’s will; as soon as 
it had assembled I knew nothing beyond its sovereign will’. He would 
have no ‘extra reason’, and yet this extra reason alone accomplishes 
everything. Just so Mirabeau inveighs in the words, ‘No power on 
earth has the right to say to the nation’s representatives, it is my 
will !’ 228 

As with the Greeks, there is now a wish to make man a zoon 
politicon , a citizen of the state or political man. So he ranked for 
a long time as a ‘citizen of heaven’. But the Greek fell into 
ignominy along with his state , the citizen of heaven likewise falls 
with heaven; we, on the other hand, are not willing to go down 
along with the people , the nation and nationality, not willing to be 
merely political men or politicians. Since the revolution they have 
striven to ‘make the people happy’, and in making the people 
happy, great, and the like, they make us unhappy: the people’s 
good hap is - my mishap. 

What empty talk the political liberals utter with emphatic decorum 
is well seen again in Nauwerck’s Uber die Teilnahme am Staate . 229 
There complaint is made of those who are indifferent and do not 
take part, who are not in the full sense citizens, and the author speaks 
as if one could not be man at all if one were not a politician. In this 
he is right; for, if the state ranks as the warder of everything ‘human’, 
we can have nothing human without taking part in it. But what does 
this make out against the egoist? Nothing at all, because the egoist 


The Ego and Its Own 

is to himself the warder of the human, and has nothing to say to the 
state except: ‘Get out of my sunshine ’. 230 Only when the state comes 
in contact with his ownness does the egoist take an active interest in 
it. If the condition of the state does not bear hard on the closet- 
philosopher, is he to occupy himself with it because it is his ‘most 
sacred duty’? So long as the state does according to his wish, what 
need has he to look up from his studies? Let those who from an 
interest of their own want to have conditions otherwise busy them- 
selves with them. Not now, nor evermore, will ‘sacred duty’ bring 
people to reflect about the state - as little as they become disciples 
of science, artists, etc., from ‘sacred duty’. Egoism alone can impel 
them to it, and will as soon as things have become much worse. If 
you showed people that their egoism demanded that they busy them- 
selves with state affairs, you would not have to call on them long; if, 
on the other hand, you appeal to their love of fatherland and the like, 
you will long preach to deaf hearts on behalf of this ‘service of love’. 
Certainly, in your sense the egoists will not participate in state affairs 
at all. 

Nauwerck utters a genuine liberal phrase: 

Man completely fulfils his calling only in feeling and knowing 
himself as a member of humanity, and being active as such. The 
individual cannot realize the idea of manhood if he does not sup- 
port himself upon all humanity, if he does not draw his powers 
from it like Antaeus . 23 Xa 

In the same place it is said: ‘Man’s relation to the res publica is 
degraded to a purely private matter by the theological view; is, accord- 
ingly, made away with by denial.’ As if the political view did otherwise 
with religion! There religion is a ‘private matter’. 

If, instead of ‘sacred duty’, ‘man’s destiny’, the ‘calling to full man- 
hood’, and similar commandments, it were held up to people that 
their self-interest was infringed on when they let everything in the state 
go as it goes, then, without declamations, they would be addressed as 
one will have to address them at the decisive moment if he wants to 
attain his end. Instead of this, the theology-hating author says, ‘If 
there has ever been a time when the state laid claim to all that are 
its, such a time is ours. - The thinking man sees in participation in 

Karl Nauwerck, Uber die Teilnahme am Staate (Leipzig, 1844), p. 16. 


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the theory and practice of the state a duty , one of the most sacred 
duties that rest upon him’ - and then takes under closer consideration 
the ‘unconditional necessity that everybody participate in the state’. 

He in whose head or heart or both the state is seated, he who is 
possessed by the state, or the believer in the state , is a politician, and 
remains such to all eternity. 

‘The state is the most necessary means for the complete develop- 
ment of mankind.’ It assuredly has been so as long as we wanted to 
develop mankind; but, if we want to develop ourselves, it can be to 
us only a means of hindrance. 

Can state and people still be reformed and bettered now? As 
little as the nobility, the clergy, the church, etc.: they can be 
abrogated, annihilated, done away with, not reformed. Can I change 
a piece of nonsense into sense by reforming it, or must I drop it 

Henceforth what is to be done is no longer about the state (the 
form of the state, etc.), but about me. With this all questions about 
the prince’s power, the constitution, and so on, sink into their true 
abyss and their true nothingness. I, this nothing, shall put forth my 
creations from myself. 

To the chapter of society belongs also ‘the party’, whose praise has 
of late been sung. 

In the state the party is valid. ‘Party, party, who should not join 
one!’ But the individual is unique , not a member of the party. He 
unites freely, and separates freely again. The party is nothing but a 
state in the state, and in this smaller bee-state ‘peace’ is also to rule 
just as in the greater. The very people who cry loudest that there 
must be an opposition in the state inveigh against every discord in the 
party. A proof that they too want only a - state. All parties are shat- 
tered not against the state, but against the ego. 

One hears nothing more frequently now than the admonition to 
remain true to his party; party men despise nothing so much as an 
independent. One must run with his party through thick and thin, 
and unconditionally approve and represent its chief principles. It does 
not indeed go quite so badly here as with closed societies, because 
these bind their members to fixed laws or statutes (such as the orders, 
the Society of Jesus, etc.). But yet the party ceases to be a union at 
the same moment at which it makes certain principles binding and 


The Ego and Its Own 

wants to have them assured against attacks; but this moment is the 
very birth-act of the party. As party it is already a bom society , a dead 
union, an idea that has become fixed. As party of absolutism it cannot 
will that its members should doubt the irrefragable truth of this prin- 
ciple; they could cherish this doubt only if they were egoistic enough 
to want still to be something outside their party, non-partisans. Non- 
partisans they cannot be as party-men, but only as egoists. If you are 
a Protestant and belong to that party, you must only justify Prot- 
estantism, at most ‘purge’ it, not reject it; if you are a Christian and 
belong among men to the Christian party, you cannot be beyond this 
as a member of this party, but only when your egoism, non- 
partisanship, impels you to it. What exertions the Christians, down 
to Hegel and the communists, have put forth to make their party 
strong! They stuck to it that Christianity must contain the eternal 
truth, and that one needs only to get at it, make sure of it, and 
justify it. 

In short, the party cannot bear non-partisanship, and it is in this 
that egoism appears. What matters the party to me? I shall find 
enough anyhow who unite with me without swearing allegiance to my 

He who passes over from one party to another is at once abused 
as a ‘turncoat’. Certainly morality demands that one stand by his 
party, and to become apostate from it is to spot oneself with the stain 
of ‘faithlessness’; but ownness knows no commandment of ‘faithful- 
ness, devotion and the like’, ownness permits everything, even apos- 
tasy, defection. Unconsciously even the moral themselves let them- 
selves be led by this principle when they have to judge one who 
passes over to their party - indeed, they are likely to be making 
proselytes; they should only at the same time acquire a consciousness 
of the fact that one must commit immoral actions in order to commit 
his own - here, that one must break faith, yes, even his oath, in 
order to determine himself instead of being determined by moral 
considerations. In the eyes of people of strict moral judgement an 
apostate always shimmers in equivocal colours, and will not easily 
obtain their confidence; for there sticks to him the taint of ‘faith- 
lessness’, of an immorality. In the lower man this view is found almost 
generally; advanced thinkers fall here too, as always, into an uncer- 
tainty and bewilderment, and the contradiction necessarily founded 
in the principle of morality does not, on account of the confusion of 


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their concepts, come clearly to their consciousness. They do not 
venture to call the apostate immoral downright, because they them- 
selves entice to apostasy, to defection from one religion to another; 
still, they cannot give up the standpoint of morality either. And yet 
here the occasion was to be seized to step outside of morality. 

Are the own or unique perchance a party? How could they be own 
if they were such as belonged to a party? 

Or is one to hold with no party? In the very act of joining them 
and entering their circle one forms a union with them that lasts as 
long as party and I pursue one and the same goal. But today I still 
share the party’s tendency, as by tomorrow I can do so no longer and 
I become ‘untrue’ to it. The party has nothing binding (obligatory) 
for me, and I do not have respect for it; if it no longer pleases me, 
I become its foe. 

In every party that cares for itself and its persistence, the members 
are unfree (or better, unown) in that degree, they lack egoism in that 
degree, in which they serve this desire of the party. The indepen- 
dence of the party conditions the lack of independence in the 

A party, of whatever kind it may be, can never do without a con- 
fession of faith. For those who belong to the party must believe in its 
principle, it must not be brought in doubt or put in question by them, 
it must be the certain, indubitable thing for the party-member. That 
is: one must belong to a party body and soul, else one is not truly a 
party-man, but more or less - an egoist. Harbour a doubt of Chris- 
tianity, and you are already no longer a true Christian, you have lifted 
yourself to the ‘effrontery’ of putting a question beyond it and haling 
Christianity before your egoistic judgement-seat. You have - sinned 
against Christianity, this party cause (for it is surely not, for example, 
a cause for the Jews, another party). But well for you if you do not 
let yourself be affrighted: your effrontery helps you to ownness. 

So then an egoist could never embrace a party or take up with a 
party? Oh, yes, only he cannot let himself be embraced and taken up 
by the party. For him the party remains all the time nothing but a 
gathering: he is one of the party, he takes part. 

The best state will clearly be that which has the most loyal citizens, 
and the more the devoted mind for legality is lost, so much the more 
will the state, this system of morality, this moral life itself, be dimin- 

2 1 1 

The Ego and Its Own 

ished in force and quality. With the ‘good citizens’ the good state too 
perishes and dissolves into anarchy and lawlessness. ‘Respect for the 
law!’ By this cement the total of the state is held together. ‘The law 
is sacred, and he who affronts it a criminal .’ Without crime no state: 
the moral world - and this the state is - is crammed full of rogues, 
cheats, liars, thieves. Since the state is the ‘lordship of law’, its hier- 
archy, it follows that the egoist, in all cases where his advantage runs 
against the state’s, can satisfy himself only by crime. 

The state cannot give up the claim that its laws and ordinances are 
sacred [ heilig ]. At this the individual ranks as the unholy [Unheiligen] 
(barbarian, natural man, ‘egoist’) over against the state, exactly as he 
was once regarded by the church; before the individual the state takes 
on the nimbus of a saint [ Heiligen ]. Thus it issues a law against 
duelling. Two men who are both at one in this, that they are willing 
to stake their life for a cause (no matter what), are not to be allowed 
this, because the state will not have it: it imposes a penalty on it. 
Where is the liberty of self-determination then? It is at once quite 
another situation if, as in North America, society determines to let 
the duellists bear certain evil consequences of their act, such as with- 
drawal of the credit hitherto enjoyed. To refuse credit is everybody’s 
affair, and, if a society wants to withdraw it for this or that reason, 
the man who is hit cannot therefore complain of encroachment on 
his liberty: the society is simply availing itself of its own liberty. That 
is no penalty for sin, no penalty for a crime. The duel is no crime 
there, but only an act against which the society adopts counter- 
measures, resolves on a defence. The state, on the contrary, stamps 
the duel as a crime, as an injury to its sacred law: it makes it a criminal 
case. The society leaves it to the individual’s decision whether he will 
draw upon himself evil consequences and inconveniences by his 
mode of action, and hereby recognizes his free decision; the state 
behaves in exactly the reverse way, denying all right to the individual’s 
decision and, instead, ascribing the sole right to its own decision, the 
law of the state, so that he who transgresses the state’s commandment 
is looked upon as if he were acting against God’s commandment - 
a view which likewise was once maintained by the church. Here God 
is the Holy in and of himself, and the commandments of the church, 
as of the state, are the commandments of this Holy One, which he 
transmits to the world through his anointed and Lords-by-the- 
Grace-of-God. If the church had deadly sins , the state has capital 


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crimes ; if the one had heretics , the other has traitors', the one ecclesiastical 
penalties , the other criminal penalties', the one inquisitorial processes, 
the other fiscal', in short, there sins, here crimes,, there inquisition 
and here - inquisition. Will the sanctity of the state not fall like the 
church’s? The awe of its laws, the reverence for its highness, the 
humility of its ‘subjects’, will this remain? Will the ‘saint’s’ face not 
be stripped of its adornment? 

What a folly, to ask of the state’s authority that it should enter into 
an honourable fight with the individual, and, as they express them- 
selves in the matter of freedom of the press, share sun and wind 
equally! If the state, this thought, is to be a de facto power, it simply 
must be a superior power against the individual. The state is ‘sacred’ 
and must not expose itself to the ‘impudent attacks’ of individuals. 
If the state is sacred, there must be censorship. The political liberals 
admit the former and dispute the inference. But in any case they 
concede repressive measures to it, for - they stick to this, that state 
is more than the individual and exercises as justified revenge, called 

Punishment has a meaning only when it is to afford expiation for 
the injuring of a sacred thing. If something is sacred to any one, he 
certainly deserves punishment when he acts as its enemy. A man who 
lets a man’s life continue in existence because to him it is sacred and 
he had a dread of touching it is simply a - religious man. 

Weitling lays crime at the door of ‘social disorder’, and lives in the 
expectation that under communistic arrangements crimes will 
become impossible, because the temptations to them, such as money, 
fall away. As, however, his organized society is also exalted into a 
sacred and inviolable one, he miscalculates in that good-hearted 
opinion. Such as with their mouth professed allegiance to the com- 
munistic society, but worked underhand for its ruin, would not be 
lacking. Besides, Weitling has to keep on with ‘curative means against 
the natural remainder of human diseases and weaknesses’, and ‘cura- 
tive means’ always announce to begin with that individuals will be 
looked upon as ‘called’ to a particular ‘salvation’ and hence treated 
according to the requirements of this ‘human calling’. Curative means 
or healing is only the reverse side of punishment , the theory of cure runs 
parallel with the theory of punishment ; if the latter sees in an action a 
sin against right, the former takes it for a sin of the man against 
himself, as a falling away from his health. But the correct thing is that 


The Ego and Its Own 

I regard it either as an action that suits me or as one that does not suit 
me , as hostile or friendly to me , that I treat it as my property , which I 
cherish or demolish. ‘Crime’ or ‘disease’ are not either of them an 
egoistic view of the matter, a judgement starting from me , but starting 
from another - namely, whether it injures right , general right, or the 
health partly of the individual (the sick one), partly of the generality 
(society). ‘Crime’ is treated inexorably, ‘disease’ with ‘loving gentle- 
ness, compassion’, and the like. 

Punishment follows crime. If crime falls because the sacred van- 
ishes, punishment must not less be drawn into its fall; for it too 
has significance only over against something sacred. Ecclesiastical 
punishments have been abolished. Why? Because how one behaves 
toward the ‘holy God’ is his own affair. But, as this one punishment, 
ecclesiastical punishment , has fallen, so all punishments must fall. As sin 
against the so-called God is a man’s own affair, so is that against 
every kind of the so-called sacred. According to our theories of penal 
law, with whose ‘improvement in conformity to the times’ people are 
tormenting themselves in vain, they want to punish men for this or 
that ‘inhumanity’; and therein they make the silliness of these theories 
especially plain by their consistency, hanging the little thieves and 
letting the big ones run. For injury to property they have the house 
of correction, and for ‘violence to thought’, suppression of ‘natural 
rights of man’, only - representations and petitions. 

The criminal code has continued existence only through the 
sacred, and perishes of itself if punishment is given up. Now they 
want to create everywhere a new penal law, without indulging in a 
misgiving about punishment itself. But it is exactly punishment that 
must make room for satisfaction, which, again, cannot aim at 
satisfying right or justice, but at procuring us a satisfactory outcome. 
If one does to us what we will not put up with , we break his power 
and bring our own to bear: we satisfy ourselves on him, and do not 
fall into the folly of wanting to satisfy right (the spook). It is not the 
sacred that is to defend itself against man, but man against man; as 
God too, you know, no longer defends himself against man, God to 
whom formerly (and in part, indeed, even now) all the ‘servants of 
God’ offered their hands to punish the blasphemer, as they still at 
this very day lend their hands to the sacred. This devotion to the 
sacred brings it to pass also that, without lively participation of one’s 
own, one only delivers misdoers into the hands of the police and 


The owner 

courts: a non-participating making over to the authorities, ‘who, of 
course, will best administer sacred matters’. The people is quite crazy 
for hounding the police on against everything that seems to it to be 
immoral, often only unseemly, and this popular rage for the moral 
protects the police institution more than the government could in any 
way protect it. 

In crime the egoist has hitherto asserted himself and mocked at 
the sacred; the break with the sacred, or rather of the sacred, may 
become general. A revolution never returns, but a mighty, reckless, 
shameless, conscienceless, proud - crime , does it not rumble in distant 
thunders, and do you not see how the sky grows presciently silent 
and gloomy? 

He who refuses to spend his powers for such limited societies as 
family, party, nation, is still always longing for a worthier society, and 
thinks he has found the true object of love, perhaps, in ‘human 
society’ or ‘mankind’, to sacrifice himself to which constitutes his 
honour; from now on he ‘lives for and serves mankind ’. 

People is the name of the body, state of the spirit, of that ruling 
person that has hitherto suppressed me. Some have wanted to trans- 
figure peoples and states by broadening them out to ‘mankind’ and 
‘general reason’; but servitude would only become still more intense 
with this widening, and philanthropists and humanitarians are as 
absolute masters as politicians and diplomats. 

Modem critics inveigh against religion because it sets God, the 
divine, moral, etc., outside of man, or makes them something objec- 
tive, in opposition to which the critics rather transfer these very sub- 
jects into man. But those critics nonetheless fall into the proper error 
of religion, to give man a ‘destiny’, in that they too want to have him 
divine, human, and the like: morality, freedom and humanity, etc., 
are his essence. And, like religion, politics too wanted to ‘ educate ’ 
man, to bring him to the realization of his ‘essence’, his ‘destiny’, to 
make something out of him - namely, a ‘true man’, the one in the 
form of the ‘true believer’, the other in that of the ‘true citizen or 
subject’. In fact, it comes to the same whether one calls the destiny 
the divine or human. 

Under religion and politics man finds himself at the standpoint of 
should [ Sollens ]: he should become this and that, should be so and so. 
With this postulate, this commandment, every one steps not only in 


The Ego and Its Own 

front of another but also in front of himself. Those critics say: You 
should be a whole, free man. Thus they too stand in the temptation 
to proclaim a new religion , to set up a new absolute, an ideal - namely, 
freedom. Men shouldbt free. Then there might even arise missionaries 
of freedom, as Christianity, in the conviction that all were properly 
destined to become Christians, sent out missionaries of the faith. 
Freedom would then (as have hitherto faith as church, morality as 
state) constitute itself as a new community and carry on a like ‘propa- 
ganda’ from that. Certainly no objection can be raised against a get- 
ting together; but so much the more must one oppose every renewal 
of the old care for us, of culture directed toward an end - in short, the 
principle of making something out of us, no matter whether Christians, 
subjects, or freemen and men. 

One may well say with Feuerbach and others that religion has 
displaced the human from man, and has transferred it so into another 
world that, unattainable, it went on with its own existence there as 
something personal in itself, as a ‘God’: but the error of religion is 
by no means exhausted with this. One might very well let fall the 
personality of the displaced human, might transform God into the 
divine, and still remain religious. For the religious consists in discon- 
tent with the present men, in the setting up of a ‘perfection’ to be 
striven for, in ‘man wrestling for his completion’." (‘Ye therefore 
should be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.’*): it consists in 
the fixation of an ideal, an absolute. Perfection is the ‘supreme good’, 
the finis bonorum 232 ; every one’s ideal is the perfect man, the true, 
the free man, etc. 

The efforts of modern times aim to set up the ideal of the ‘free 
man’. If one could find it, there would be a new - religion, because 
a new ideal; there would be a new longing, a new torment, a new 
devotion, a new deity, a new contrition. 

With the ideal of ‘absolute liberty’, the same turmoil is made as 
with everything absolute, and according to Hess, it is said to ‘be 
realizable in absolute human society’/ Indeed, this realization is 
immediately afterwards styled a ‘vocation’; just as he then defines 

“ Bruno Bauer (anonymously), ‘Was ist jetzt der Gegenstand der Kritik?’, in Bruno 
Bauer (ed .), Allgemeine Literaturzeitung, no. 8 (July, 1844), p. 22. 
h Matthew 5:48. 

f Moses Hess (anonymously), ‘Sozialismus und Kommunismus’, in Georg Herwegh 
(ed.), Einundzwanzig Bogen aus der Schweiz (Zurich and Winterthur, 1843), pp. 89-90. 


The owner 

liberty as ‘morality’: the kingdom of ‘justice’ (equality) and ‘morality’ 
(liberty) is to begin, etc. 

Ridiculous is he who, while fellows of his tribe, family, nation, 
rank high, is - nothing but ‘puffed up’ over the merit of his fellows; 
but blinded too is he who wants only to be ‘man’. Neither of them 
puts his worth in exclusiveness , but in connectedness , or in the ‘tie’ 
that conjoins him with others, in the ties of blood, of nationality, of 

Through the ‘nationals’ of today the conflict has again been stirred 
up between those who think themselves to have merely human blood 
and human ties of blood, and the others who brag of their special 
blood and the special ties of blood. 

If we disregard the fact that pride may mean conceit, and take it 
for consciousness alone, there is found to be a vast difference 
between pride in ‘belonging to’ a nation and therefore being its prop- 
erty, and that in calling a nationality one’s property. Nationality is my 
quality, but the nation my owner and mistress. If you have bodily 
strength, you can apply it at a suitable place and have a self- 
consciousness or pride of it; if, on the contrary, your strong body has 
you, then it pricks you everywhere, and at the most unsuitable place, 
to show its strength: you can give nobody your hand without squeez- 
ing his. 

The perception that one is more than a member of the family, 
more than a fellow of the tribe, more than an individual of the people, 
has finally led to saying, one is more than all this because one is man, 
or, the man is more than the Jew, German, etc. ‘Therefore be every 
one wholly and solely - man.’ Could one not rather say: Because we 
are more than what has been stated, therefore we will be this, as well 
as that ‘more’ also? Man and Germans, then, man and Guelph? The 
nationals are in the right; one cannot deny his nationality: and the 
humanitarians are in the right; one must not remain in the narrowness 
of the national. In uniqueness the contradiction is solved; the national 
is my quality. But I am not swallowed up in my quality - as the 
human too is my quality, but I give to man his existence first through 
my uniqueness. 

History seeks for man : but he is I, you, we. Sought as a mysterious 
essence , as the divine, first as God , then as man (humanity, 
humaneness, and mankind), he is found as the individual, the finite, 
the unique one. 


The Ego and Its Own 

I am owner of humanity, am humanity , and do nothing for the 
good of another humanity. Fool, you who are a unique humanity, 
that you make a merit of wanting to live for another than you are. 

The hitherto-considered relation of me to the world of men offers 
such a wealth of phenomena that it will have to be taken up again 
and again on other occasions, but here, where it was only to have its 
chief outlines made clear to the eye, it must be broken off to make 
place for an apprehension of two other sides towards which it radi- 
ates. For, as I find myself in relation not merely to men so far as 
they present in themselves the concept ‘man’ or are children of men 
(children of man , as children of God are spoken ofX but also to that 
which they have of man and call their own, and as therefore I relate 
myself not only to that which they are through man, but also to their 
human possessions : so, besides the world of men, the world of the 
senses and of ideas will have to be included in our survey, and some- 
thing said of what men call their own, of sensuous goods, and of 
spiritual as well. 

According as one had developed and clearly grasped the concept 
of man, he gave it to us to respect as this or that person of respect, and 
from the broadest understanding of this concept there proceeded at 
last the command ‘to respect man in every one’. But if I respect man, 
my respect must likewise extend to the human, or what is man’s. 

Men have something of their own, and / am to recognize this own 
and hold it sacred. Their own consists partly in outward, partly in 
inward possessions. The former are things, the latter spiritualities, 
thoughts, convictions, noble feelings. But I am always to respect only 
rightful or human possessions: the wrongful and unhuman I need not 
spare, for only man's own is men’s real own. An inward possession 
of this sort is, for example, religion; because religion is free, that is, 
is man’s, I must not strike at it. Just so honour is an inward possession; 
it is free and must not be struck at by me. (Action for insult, carica- 
tures, etc.) Religion and honour are ‘spiritual property’. In tangible 
property the person stands foremost: my person is my first property. 
Hence freedom of the person; but only the rightful or human person 
is free, the other is locked up. Your life is your property; but it is 
sacred for men only if it is not that of an inhuman monster. 

What a man as such cannot defend of bodily goods, we may take 
from him: this is the meaning of competition, of freedom of occu- 


The owner 

pation. What he cannot defend of spiritual goods falls a prey to us 
likewise: so far goes the liberty of discussion, of science, of criticism. 

But consecrated goods are inviolable. Consecrated and guaranteed 
by whom? Proximately by the state, society, but properly by man or 
the ‘concept’, the ‘concept of the thing’; for the concept of conse- 
crated goods is this, that they are truly human, or rather that the 
holder possesses them as man and not as un-man. 

On the spiritual side man’s faith is such goods, his honour, his 
moral feeling - yes, his feeling of decency, modesty, etc. Actions 
(speeches, writings) that touch honour are punishable; attacks on ‘the 
foundations of all religion’; attacks on political faith; in short, attacks 
on everything that a man ‘rightly’ has. 

How far critical liberalism would extend the sanctity of goods - 
on this point it has not yet made any pronouncement, and doubtless 
fancies itself to be ill-disposed toward all sanctity; but, as it combats 
egoism, it must set limits to it, and must not let the un-man pounce 
on the human. To its theoretical contempt for the ‘masses’ there 
must correspond a practical snub if it should get into power. 

What extension the concept ‘man’ receives, and what comes to the 
individual man through it - what, therefore, man and the human 
are - on this point the various grades of liberalism differ, and the 
political, the social, the humane man are each always claiming more 
than the other for ‘man’. He who has best grasped this concept knows 
best what is ‘man’s’. The state still grasps this concept in political 
restriction, society in social; mankind, so it is said, is the first to 
comprehend it entirely, or ‘the history of mankind develops it’. But, 
if ‘man is discovered’, then we know also what pertains to man as 
his own, man’s property, the human. 

But let the individual man lay claim to ever so many rights because 
man or the concept man ‘entitles’ him to them, because his being 
man does it: what do / care for his right and his claim? If he has his 
right only from man and does not have it from me , then for me he 
has no right. His life, for example, counts to me only for what it is 
worth to me. I respect neither a so-called right of property (or his 
claim to tangible goods) nor yet his right to the ‘sanctuary of his inner 
nature’ (or his right to have the spiritual goods and divinities, his 
gods, remain unaggrieved). His goods, the sensuous as well as the 
spiritual, are mine, and I dispose of them as proprietor, in the measure 
of my - might. 


The Ego and Its Own 

In the property question lies a broader meaning than the limited 
statement of the question allows to be brought out. Referred solely 
to what men call our possessions, it is capable of no solution; the 
decision is to be found in him ‘from whom we have everything’. 
Property depends on the owner. 

The revolution directed its weapons against everything which came 
‘from the grace of God’, against divine right, in whose place the 
human was confirmed. To that which is granted by the grace of God, 
there is opposed that which is derived ‘from the essence of man’. 

Now, as men’s relation to each other, in opposition to the religious 
dogma which commands a ‘love one another for God’s sake’, had to 
receive its human position by a ‘love each other for man’s sake’, so 
the revolutionary teaching could not do otherwise than, first, as to 
what concerns the relation of men to the things of this world, settle 
it that the world, which hitherto was arranged according to God’s 
ordinance, henceforth belongs to ‘man’. 

The world belongs to ‘man’, and is to be respected by me as his 

Property is what is mine! 

Property in the civic sense means sacred property, such that I must 
respect your property. ‘Respect for property!’ Hence the politicians 
would like to have every one possess his little bit of property, and 
they have in part brought about an incredible parcellation by this 
effort. Each must have his bone on which he may find something to 

The position of affairs is different in the egoistic sense. I do not 
step shyly back from your property, but look upon it always as my 
property, in which I need to ‘respect’ nothing. Pray do the like with 
what you call my property! 

With this view we shall most easily come to an understanding with 
each other. 

The political liberals are anxious that, if possible, all servitudes be 
dissolved, and every one be free lord on his ground, even if this 
ground has only so much area as can have its requirements adequately 
filled by the manure of one person. (The farmer in the story married 
even in his old age ‘that he might profit by his wife’s dung [Kote]\) 
Be it ever so little, if one only has somewhat of his own - namely, a 
respected property! The more such owners, such cotters [Kotsassen], 
the more ‘free people and good patriots’ has the state. 


The owner 

Political liberalism, like everything religious, counts on respect, 
humaneness, the virtues of love. Therefore does it live in incessant 
vexation. For in practice people respect nothing, and every day the 
small possessions are bought up again by greater proprietors, and the 
‘free people’ change into day-labourers. 

If, on the contrary, the ‘small proprietors’ had reflected that the 
great property was also theirs, they would not have respectfully shut 
themselves out from it, and would not have been shut out. 

Property as the civic liberals understand it deserves the attacks of 
the communists and Proudhon: it is untenable, because the civic 
proprietor is in truth nothing but a propertyless man, one who is 
everywhere shut out. Instead of owning the world, as he might, he 
does not own even the paltry point on which he turns around. 

Proudhon wants not the proprietaire but the possesseur or usufruitierf 
What does that mean? He wants no one to own the land; but the 
benefit of it - even though one were allowed only the hundredth part 
of this benefit, this fruit - is at any rate one’s property, which he can 
dispose of at will. He who has only the benefit of a field is assuredly 
not the proprietor of it; still less he who, as Proudhon would have it, 
must give up so much of this benefit as is not required for his wants; 
but he is the proprietor of the share that is left him. Proudhon, 
therefore, denies only such and such property, not property itself. If 
we want no longer to leave the land to the landed proprietors, but to 
appropriate it to ourselves, we unite ourselves to this end, form a 
union, a societe , that makes itself proprietor; if we have good luck in 
this, then those persons cease to be landed proprietors. And, as from 
the land, so we can drive them out of many another property yet, in 
order to make it our property, the property of the - conquerors. The 
conquerors form a society which one may imagine so great that it by 
degrees embraces all humanity; but so-called humanity too is as such 
only a thought (spook); the individuals are its reality. And these indi- 
viduals as a collective mass will treat land and earth not less arbitrarily 
than an isolated individual or so-called proprietaire. Even so, there- 
fore, property remains standing, and that as ‘exclusive’ too, in that 
humanity , this great society, excludes the individual from its property 
(perhaps only leases to him, gives him as a fief, a piece of it) as it 
besides excludes everything that is not humanity, does not allow ani- 

* Pierre- Joseph Proudhon, What is Property? (Paris, 1841), p. 83. 


The Ego and Its Own 

mals to have property. - So too it will remain, and will grow to be. 
That in which all want to have a share will be withdrawn from that 
individual who wants to have it for himself alone: it is made a common 
estate. As a common estate every one has his share in it, and this share 
is his property. Why, so in our old relations a house which belongs to 
five heirs is their common estate; but the fifth part of the revenue is 
each one’s property. Proudhon might spare his prolix pathos if he 
said: ‘There are some things that belong only to a few, and to which 
we others will from now on lay claim or - siege. Let us take them, 
because one comes to property by taking, and the property of which 
for the present we are still deprived came to the proprietors likewise 
only by taking. It can be utilized better if it is in the hands of us all 
than if the few control it. Let us therefore associate ourselves for the 
purpose of this robbery (vol)I - Instead of this, he tries to get us to 
believe that society is the original possessor and the sole proprietor, of 
imprescriptible right; against it the so-called proprietors have become 
thieves (La propriete c’est le vol)\ if it now deprives of his property the 
present proprietor, it robs him of nothing, as it is only availing itself 
of its imprescriptible right. - So far one comes with the spook of 
society as a moral person. On the contrary, what man can obtain 
belongs to him: the world belongs to me. Do you say anything else 
by your opposite proposition? ‘The world belongs to all? All are I 
and again I, etc. But you make out of the ‘all’ a spook, and make it 
sacred, so that then the ‘all’ become the individual’s fearful master. 
Then the ghost of ‘right’ places itself on their side. 

Proudhon, like the communists, fights against egoism. Therefore 
they are continuations and consistent carryings-out of the Christian 
principle, the principle of love, of sacrifice for something general, 
something alien. They complete in property, only what has long been 
extant as a matter of fact - namely, the propertylessness of the indi- 
vidual. When the law says, ‘Ad reges potestas omnium pertinet, ad 
singulos proprietas; omnia rex imperio possidet, singuli dominio ’, 233 
this means: the king is proprietor, for he alone can control and dis- 
pose of ‘everything’, he has potestas and imperium over it. The commu- 
nists make this clearer, transferring that imperium to the ‘society of 
all’. Therefore: because enemies of egoism, they are on that account - 
Christians, or, more generally speaking, religious men, believers in 
ghosts, dependents, servants of some generality (God, society, etc.). 
In this too Proudhon is like the Christians, that he ascribes to God 


The owner 

that which he denies to men. He names him the Proprietaire of the 
earth . 8 Herewith he proves that he cannot think away the proprietor 
as such ; he comes to a proprietor at last, but removes him to the other 

Neither God nor man (‘human society’) is proprietor, but the 

Proudhon (Weitling too) thinks he is telling the worst about property 
when he calls it theft (vol). Passing quite over the embarrassing ques- 
tion, what well-founded objection could be made against theft, we 
only ask: Is the concept ‘theft’ at all possible unless one allows validity 
to the concept ‘property’? How can one steal if property is not already 
extant? What belongs to no one cannot be stolen ; the water that one 
draws out of the sea he does not steal. Accordingly property is not 
theft, but a theft becomes possible only through property. Weitling 
has to come to this too, as he does regard everything as the property 
of all : if something is ‘the property of all’, then indeed the individual 
who appropriates it to himself steals. 

Private property lives by grace of the law. Only in the law has it 
its warrant - for possession is not yet property, it becomes ‘mine’ 
only by assent of the law; it is not a fact, not un fait as Proudhon 
thinks, but a fiction, a thought. This is legal property, legitimate 
property, guaranteed property. It is mine not through me but through 
the - law. 

Nevertheless, property is the expression for unlimited dominion over 
somewhat (thing, beast, man) which ‘I can judge and dispose of as 
seems good to me’. According to Roman law, indeed, ‘ius utendi et 
abutendi re sua, quatenus iuris ratio patitur ’, 234 an exclusive and 
unlimited right ; but property is conditioned by might. What I have in 
my power, that is my own. So long as I assert myself as holder, I am 
the proprietor of the thing; if it gets away from me again, no matter 
by what power, as through my recognition of a title of others to the 
thing - then the property is extinct. Thus property and possession 
coincide. It is not a right lying outside my might that legitimizes me, 
but solely my might: if I no longer have this, the thing vanishes away 
from me. When the Romans no longer had any might against the 
Germanic peoples, the world-empire of Rome belonged to the latter, 

“ Ibid. p. go. 


The Ego and Its Own 

and it would sound ridiculous to insist that the Romans had neverthe- 
less remained properly the proprietors. Whoever knows how to take 
and to defend the thing, to him it belongs until it is again taken from 
him, as liberty belongs to him who takes it. 

Only might decides about property, and, as the state (no matter 
whether state of well-to-do citizens or of ragamuffins or of men in 
the absolute) is the sole mighty one, it alone is proprietor; I, the 
unique, have nothing, and am only enfeoffed, am vassal and as such, 
servitor. Under the dominion of the state there is no property of 

I want to raise the value of myself, the value of ownness, and 
should I cheapen property? No, as I was not respected hitherto 
because people, mankind, and a thousand other generalities were put 
higher, so property too has to this day not yet been recognized in its 
full value. Property too was only the property of a ghost, the people’s 
property; my whole existence ‘belonged to the fatherland’; I belonged 
to the fatherland, the people, the state, and therefore also everything 
that I called my own. It is demanded of states that they make away 
with pauperism. It seems to me this is asking that the state should 
cut off its own head and lay it at its feet; for so long as the state is 
the ego the individual ego must remain a poor devil, a non-ego. The 
state has an interest only in being itself rich; whether Michael is rich 
and Peter poor is alike to it; Peter might also be rich and Michael 
poor. It looks on indifferently as one grows poor and the other rich, 
unruffled by this alternation. As individuals they are really equal 
before its face; in this it is just: before it both of them are - nothing, 
as we ‘are altogether sinners before God’; on the other hand, it has 
a very great interest in this, that those individuals who make it their 
ego should have a part in its wealth; it makes them partakers in its 
property. Through property, with which it rewards the individuals, it 
tames them; but this remains its property, and every one has the 
usufruct of it only so long as he bears in himself the ego of the state, 
or is a ‘loyal member of society’; in the opposite case the property is 
confiscated, or made to melt away by vexatious lawsuits. The prop- 
erty, then, is and remains state property , not property of the ego. That 
the state does not arbitrarily deprive the individual of what he has 
from the state means simply that the state does not rob itself. He 
who is state-ego, a good citizen or subject, holds his fief undisturbed 
as such an ego , not as being an ego of his own. According to the code, 


The owner 

property is what I call mine ‘by virtue of God and law’. But it is mine 
by virtue of God and law only so long as - the state has nothing 
against it. 

In expropriations, disarmaments, and the like (as, when the 
exchequer confiscates inheritances if the heirs do not put in an 
appearance early enough) how plainly the else-veiled principle that 
only the people, ‘the state’, is proprietor, while the individual is feoffee, 
strikes the eye! 

The state, I mean to say, cannot intend that anybody should for 
his own sake have property or actually be rich, indeed, even well-to-do; 
it can acknowledge nothing, yield nothing, grant nothing to me as 
me. The state cannot check pauperism, because the poverty of pos- 
session is a poverty of me. He who is nothing but what chance or 
another - namely, the state - makes out of him also has quite rightly 
nothing but what another gives him. And this other will give him only 
what he deserves , what he is worth by service. It is not he that realizes 
a value from him. 

Political economy [. Nationalokonomie ] busies itself much with this 
subject. It lies far out beyond the ‘national [Nationale]\ however, and 
goes beyond the concepts and horizon of the state, which knows only 
state property and can distribute nothing else. For this reason it binds 
the possessions of property to conditions - as it binds everything to 
them, as in marriage, allowing validity only to the marriage sanctioned 
by it, and wresting this out of my power. But property is my property 
only when I hold it unconditionally: only I, an unconditional ego, have 
property, enter a relation of love, carry on free trade. 

The state has no anxiety about me and mine, but about itself and 
its: I count for something to it only as its child , as ‘a son of the 
country’; as ego I am nothing at all for it. For the state’s understand- 
ing, what befalls me as ego is something accidental , my wealth as well 
as my impoverishment. But, if I with all that is mine am an accident 
in the state’s eyes, this proves that it cannot comprehend me: I go 
beyond its concepts, or, its understanding is too limited to compre- 
hend me. Therefore it cannot do anything for me either. 

Pauperism is the valuelessness of me , the phenomenon that I cannot 
realize value from myself. For this reason state and pauperism are 
one and the same. The state does not let me come to my value, and 
continues in existence only through my valuelessness: it is forever 
intent on getting benefit from me, exploiting me, turning me to account, 


The Ego und Its Own 

using me up, even if the use it gets from me consists only in my 
supplying a proles 233 (proletariat); it wants me to be ‘its creature’. 

Pauperism can be removed only when I as ego realize value from 
myself, when I give my own self value, and make my price myself. I 
must rise in revolt to rise in the world. 

What I produce, flour, linen, or iron and coal, which I laboriously 
win from the earth, is my work that I want to realize value from. But 
then I may long complain that I am not paid for my work according 
to its value: the payer will not listen to me, and the state likewise will 
maintain an apathetic attitude so long as it does not think it must 
‘appease’ me that / may not break out with my dreaded might. But 
this ‘appeasing’ will be all, and, if it comes into my head to ask for 
more, the state turns against me with all the force of its lion-paws 
and eagle-claws: for it is the king of beasts, it is lion and eagle. If I 
refuse to be content with the price that it fixes for my ware and 
labour, if I rather aspire to determine the price of my ware myself, 
that is, ‘to pay myself’, in the first place I come into a conflict with 
the buyers of the ware. If this were stilled by a mutual understanding, 
the state would not readily make objections; for how individuals get 
along with each other troubles it little, so long as therein they do not 
get in its way. Its damage and its danger begin only when they do 
not agree, but, in the absence of a settlement, take each other by the 
hair. The state cannot endure that man stand in a direct relation to 
man; it must step between as - mediator , must - intervene. What 
Christ was, what the saints, the church were, the state has become - 
namely, ‘mediator’. It tears man from man to put itself between them 
as ‘spirit’. The labourers who ask for higher pay are treated as crimi- 
nals as soon as they want to compel it. What are they to do? Without 
compulsion they don’t get it, and in compulsion the state sees a 
self-help, a determination of price by the ego, a genuine, free realiz- 
ation of value from his property, which it cannot admit of. What then 
are the labourers to do? Look to themselves and ask nothing about 
the state? 

But, as is the situation with regard to my material work, so it is 
with my intellectual too. The state allows me to realize value from 
all my thoughts and to find customers for them (I do realize value 
from them, in the very fact that they bring me honour from the 
listeners, and the like); but only so long as my thoughts are - its 
thoughts. If, on the other hand, I harbour thoughts that it cannot 


The owner 

approve (make its own), then it does not allow me at all to realize value 
from them, to bring them into exchange into commerce. My thoughts are 
free only if they are granted to me by the state’s grace, if they are the 
state’s thoughts. It lets me philosophize freely only so far as I prove 
myself a ‘philosopher of state [Staatsphilosoph]'; against the state I 
must not philosophize, gladly as it tolerates my helping it out of its 
‘deficiencies’, ‘furthering’ it. - Therefore, as I may behave only as 
an ego most graciously permitted by the state, provided with its testi- 
monial of legitimacy and police pass, so too it is not granted me to 
realize value from what is mine, unless this proves to be its, which I 
hold as fief from it. My ways must be its ways, else it siezes me; my 
thoughts its thoughts, else it stops my mouth. 

The state has nothing to be more afraid of than the value of me, 
and nothing must it more carefully guard against than every occasion 
that offers itself to me for realizing value from myself. I am the deadly 
enemy of the state, which always hovers between the alternatives, it 
or I. Therefore it strictly insists not only on not letting me have a 
standing, but also on keeping down what is mine. In the state there 
is no property, no property of the individual, but only state property. 
Only through the state have I what I have, as I am only through it 
what I am. My private property is only that which the state leaves to 
me of its, cutting off others from it (making it private); it is state 

But, in opposition to the state, I feel more and more clearly that 
there is still left me a great might, the might over myself, over every- 
thing that pertains only to me and that exists only in being my own. 

What do I do if my ways are no longer its ways, my thoughts no 
longer its thoughts? I look to myself, and ask nothing about it! In my 
thoughts, which I get sanctioned by no assent, grant, or grace, I have 
my real property, a property with which I can trade. For as mine they 
are my creatures, and I am in a position to give them away in return 
for other thoughts: I give them up and take in exchange for them 
others, which then are my new purchased property. 

What then is my property? Nothing but what is in my power\ To 
what property am I entitled? To every property to which I - empower 
myself. I give myself the right of property in taking property to myself, 
or giving myself the proprietor’s power, full power, empowerment. 

Everything over which I have might that cannot be torn from me 
remains my property; well, then let might decide about property, and 


The Ego and Its Own 

I will expect everything from my might! Alien might, might that I 
leave to another, makes me an owned slave: then let my own might 
make me an owner. Let me then withdraw the might that I have 
conceded to others out of ignorance regarding the strength of my 
own might! Let me say to myself, what my might reaches to is my 
property; and let me claim as property everything that I feel myself 
strong enough to attain, and let me extend my actual property as far 
as / entitle, that is, empower, myself to take. 

Here egoism, selfishness, must decide; not the principle of love , 
not love-motives like mercy, gentleness, good-nature, or even justice 
and equity (for iustitia too is a phenomenon of - love, a product of 
love): love knows only sacrifices and demands ‘self-sacrifice’. 

Egoism does not think of sacrificing anything, giving away anything 
that it wants; it simply decides, what I want I must have and will 

All attempts to enact rational laws about property have put out 
from the bay of love into a desolate sea of regulations. Even socialism 
and communism cannot be excepted from this. Every one is to be 
provided with adequate means, for which it is little to the point 
whether one socialistically finds them still in a personal property, 
or communistically draws them from the community of goods. The 
individual’s mind in this remains the same; it remains a mind of 
dependence. The distributing board of equity lets me have only what 
the sense of equity, its loving care for all, prescribes. For me, the 
individual, there lies no less of a check in collective wealth than in that 
of individual others ; neither that is mine, nor this: whether the wealth 
belongs to the collectivity, which confers part of it on me, or to 
individual possessors, is for me the same constraint, as I cannot 
decide about ei ther of the two. On the contrary, communism, by the 
abolition of all personal property, only presses me back still more 
into dependence on another, namely, on the generality or collectivity; 
and, loudly as it always attacks the ‘state’, what it intends is itself 
again a state, a status , a condition hindering my free movement, a 
sovereign power over me. Communism rightly revolts against the 
pressure that I experience from individual proprietors; but still more 
horrible is the might that it puts in the hands of the collectivity. 

Egoism takes another way to root out the non-possessing rabble 
[Pobel]. It does not say: Wait for what the board of equity will - 


The owner 

bestow on you in the name of the collectivity (for such bestowal took 
place in ‘states’ from the most ancient times, each receiving ‘accord- 
ing to his desert’, and therefore according to the measure in which 
each was able to deserve [ verdienen ] it, to acquire it by service [ erdienen ]), 
but: Take hold, and take what you require! With this the war of all 
against all is declared. I alone decide what I will have. 

‘Now, that is truly no new wisdom, for self-seekers have acted so 
at all times!’ Not at all necessary either that the thing be new, if only 
consciousness of it is present. But this latter will not be able to claim 
great age, unless perhaps one includes the Egyptian and Spartan law; 
for how little current it is appears even from the stricture above, 
which speaks with contempt of ‘self-seekers’. One is to know just 
this, that the procedure of taking hold is not contemptible, but mani- 
fests the pure deed of the egoist at one with himself. 

Only when I expect neither from individuals nor from a collectivity 
what I can give to myself, only then do I slip out of the snares of - 
love; the rabble ceases to be rabble only when it takes hold. Only the 
dread of taking hold, and the corresponding punishment, makes it a 
rabble. Only that taking hold is sin , crime - only this dogma creates 
a rabble. For the fact that the rabble remains what it is, it (because 
it allows validity to that dogma) is to blame as well as, more especially, 
those who ‘self-seekingly’ (to give them back their favourite word) 
demand that the dogma be respected. In short, the lack of consciousness 
of that ‘new wisdom’, the old consciousness of sin, alone bears the 

If men reach the point of losing respect for property, every one 
will have property, as all slaves become free men as soon as they no 
longer respect the master as master. Unions will then, in this matter 
too, multiply the individual’s means and secure his assailed property. 

According to the communists’ opinion the commune should be 
proprietor. On the contrary, / am proprietor, and I only come to an 
understanding with others about my property. If the commune does 
not do what suits me, I rise against it and defend my property. I am 
proprietor, but property is not sacred. I should be merely possessor? 
No, hitherto one was only possessor, secured in the possession of a 
parcel by leaving others also in possession of a parcel: but now every- 
thing belongs to me, I am proprietor of everything that I require and 
can get possession of. If it is said socialistically, society gives me what 


The Ego and Its Own 

I require - then the egoist says, I take what I require. If the commu- 
nists conduct themselves as ragamuffins, the egoist behaves as 

All swan-fraternities , 236 and attempts at making the rabble happy, 
that spring from the principle of love, must miscarry. Only from 
egoism can the rabble get help, and this help it must give to itself 
and - will give to itself. If it does not let itself be coerced into fear, 
it is a power. ‘People would lose all respect if one did not coerce 
them into fear’, says bugbear Law in Der gestiefelte KaterP 1 

Property, therefore, should not and cannot be abolished; it must 
rather be torn from ghostly hands and become my property; then the 
erroneous consciousness, that I cannot entitle myself to as much as 
I require, will vanish. 

‘But what cannot man require!’ Well, whoever requires much, and 
understands how to get it, has at all times helped himself to it, as 
Napoleon 238 did with the Continent and France with Algiers. Hence 
the exact point is that the respectful ‘rabble’ should learn at last to 
help itself to what it requires. If it reaches out too far for you, why, 
then defend yourselves. You have no need at all to good-heartedly - 
bestow anything on it; and, when it learns to know itself, it - or 
rather: whoever of the rabble learns to know himself, he - casts off 
the rabble -quality in refusing your alms with thanks. But it remains 
ridiculous that you declare the rabble ‘sinful and criminal’ if it is not 
pleased to live from your favours because it can do something in its 
own favour. Your bestowals cheat it and put it off. Defend your 
property, then you will be strong; if, on the other hand, you want to 
retain your ability to bestow, and perhaps actually have the more 
political rights the more alms (poor-rates) you can give, this will work 
just as long as the recipients let you work it? 

In short, the property question cannot be solved so amicably as 
the socialists, yes, even the communists, dream. It is solved only by 
the war of all against all. The poor become free and proprietors only 
when they - rebel, rise up. Bestow ever so much on them, they will 
still always want more; for they want nothing less than that at last - 
nothing more be bestowed. 

In a registration bill for Ireland the government made the proposal to let those be 
electors who pay £5 sterling of poor-rates. He who gives alms, therefore, acquires 
political rights, or elsewhere becomes a swan-knight . 239 


The owner 

It will be asked, but how then will it be when the have-nots take 
heart? Of what sort is the settlement to be? One might as well ask 
that I cast a child’s nativity. What a slave will do as soon as he has 
broken his fetters, one must - await. 

In Kaiser’s pamphlet (Die Personlichkeit des Eigentiimers in Bezug auf 
den Sozialismus und Kommunismus etc. 240 ), worthless for lack of form 
as well as substance, he hopes from the state that it will bring about 
a levelling of property. Always the state! Herr Papa! As the church 
was proclaimed and looked upon as the ‘mother’ of believers, so the 
state has altogether the face of the provident father. 

Competition shows itself most strictly connected with the principle of 
civism. Is it anything else than equality ( egalite )? And is not equality 
a product of that same revolution which was brought on by the com- 
monalty, the middle classes? As no one is barred from competing 
with all in the state (except the prince, because he represents the 
state itself) and working himself up to their height, yes, overthrowing 
or exploiting them for his own advantage, soaring above them and 
by stronger exertion depriving them of their favourable circum- 
stances - this serves as a clear proof that before the state’s judge- 
ment-seat every one has only the value of a ‘simple individual’ and 
may not count on any favouritism. Outrun and outbid each other as 
much as you like and can; that shall not trouble me, the state! Among 
yourselves you are free in competing, you are competitors; that is 
your social position. But before me, the state, you are nothing but 
‘simple individuals ’ \ a 

What in the form of principle or theory was propounded as the 
equality of all has found here in competition its realization and practi- 
cal carrying out; for egalite is - free competition. All are, before the 
state - simple individuals; in society, or in relation to each other - 

Minister Stein 241 used this expression about Count von Reisach, 242 when he so cold- 
bloodedly left the latter at the mercy of the Bavarian government because to him, as 
he said, ‘a government like Bavaria must be worth more than a simple individual’. 
Reisach had written against Montgelas 243 at Stein’s bidding, and Stein later agreed 
to the giving up of Reisach, which was demanded by Montgelas on account of this 
very book. See Hermann Friedrich Wilhelm Hinrichs, Politische Vorlesungen. Unser 
Zeitalter und me es gemrden, nach seinen politischen, kirchlichen und wissenschaftlichen 
Zustanden, mit besonderm Bezug auf Deutschland und namentlich Preufien, volume I (Halle, 
1843), p. 280. 


The Ego and Its Own 

I need be nothing further than a simple individual to be able to 
compete with all others aside from the prince and his family: a free- 
dom which formerly was made impossible by the fact that only by 
means of one’s corporation, and within it, did one enjoy any freedom 
of effort. 

In the guild and feudality the state is in an intolerant and fastidious 
attitude, granting privileges ; in competition and liberalism it is in a 
tolerant and indulgent attitude, granting only patents (letters assuring 
the applicant that the business stands open [patent] to him) or ‘con- 
cessions’. Now, as the state has thus left everything to the applicants , 
it must come in conflict with all, because each and all are entitled to 
make application. It will be ‘stormed’, and will go down in this storm. 

Is ‘free competition’ then really ‘free’? Indeed, is it really a ‘compe- 
tition’, namely, one of persons , as it gives itself out to be because on 
this title it bases its right? It originated, you know, in persons becom- 
ing free of all personal rule. Is a competition ‘free’ which the state, 
this ruler in the civic principle, hems in by a thousand barriers? There 
is a rich manufacturer doing a brilliant business, and I should like to 
compete with him. ‘Go ahead’, says the state, ‘I have no objection to 
make to your person as competitor’. Yes, I reply, but for that I need 
a space for buildings, I need money! ‘That’s bad; but, if you have no 
money, you cannot compete. You must not take anything from any- 
body, for I protect property and grant it privileges.’ Free competition 
is not ‘free’, because I lack the things for competition. Against my 
person no objection can be made, but because I have not the things 
my person too must step to the rear. And who has the necessary 
things? Perhaps that manufacturer? Why, from him I could take them 
away! No, the state has them as property, the manufacturer only as 
fief, as possession. 

But, since it is no use trying it with the manufacturer, I will com- 
pete with that professor of jurisprudence; the man is a simpleton, 
and I, who know a hundred times more than he, shall make his 
class-room empty. ‘Have you studied and graduated, friend?’ No, but 
what of that? I understand abundantly what is necessary for instruc- 
tion in that department. ‘Sorry, but competition is not “free” here. 
Against your person there is nothing to be said, but the thing , the 
doctor’s diploma, is lacking. And this diploma I, the state, demand. 
Ask me for it respectfully first; then we will see what is to be done.’ 


The owner 

This, therefore, is the ‘freedom’ of competition. The state, my lord , 
first qualifies me to compete. 

But do persons really compete? No, again things only! Moneys in 
the first place, etc. 

In the rivalry one will always be left behind another (as, a poetaster 
behind a poet). But it makes a difference whether the means that the 
unlucky competitor lacks are personal or material, and likewise 
whether the material means can be won by personal energy or are to 
be obtained only by grace , only as a present; as when the poorer man 
must leave, that is, present, to the rich man his riches. But, if I must 
all along wait for the state’s approval to obtain or to use (as in the 
case of graduation) the means, I have the means by the grace of the 
state. 0 

Free competition, therefore, has only the following meaning: to 
the state all rank as its equal children, and every one can scud and 
run to earn the state's goods and largess. Therefore all do chase after 
havings, holdings, possessions (be it of money or offices, titles of 
honour, etc.), after the things. 

In the mind of the commonalty every one is possessor or ‘owner’. 
Now, whence comes it that the most have in fact next to nothing? 
From this, that the most are already joyful over being possessors at 
all, even though it be of some rags, as children are joyful in their 
first long trousers or even the first penny that is presented to them. 
More precisely, however, the matter is to be taken as follows. Liberal- 
ism came forward at once with the declaration that it belonged to 
man’s essence not to be property, but proprietor. As the consideration 
here was about ‘man’, not about the individual, the how-much (which 
formed exactly the point of the individual’s special interest) was left 
to him. Hence the individual’s egoism retained room for the freest 
play in this how-much, and carried on an indefatigable competition. 

However, the lucky egoism had to become a snag in the way of 
the less fortunate, and the latter, still keeping its feet planted on the 

In colleges and universities poor men compete with rich. But they are able to do so 
in most cases only through scholarships, which - a significant point - almost all come 
down to us from a time when free competition was still far from being a controlling 
principle. The principle of competition founds no scholarships, but says, help yourself; 
provide yourself the means. What the state gives for such purposes it pays out from 
interested motives, to educate ‘servants’ for itself. 


The Ego and Its Own 

principle of humanity, put forward the question as to how-much of 
possession, and answered it to the effect that ‘man must have as 
much as he requires’. 

Will it be possible for my egoism to let itself be satisfied with that? 
What ‘man’ requires furnishes by no means a scale for measuring 
me and my needs; for I may have use for less or more. I must rather 
have so much as I am competent to appropriate. 

Competition suffers from the unfavourable circumstance that the 
means for competing are not at every one’s command, because they 
are not taken from personality, but from accident. Most are without 
means , and for this reason without goods. 

Hence the socialists demand the means for all, and aim at a society 
that shall offer means. Your money value, say they, we no longer 
recognize as your competence; you must show another competence, 
namely, your labour power [Arbeit skrafte]. In the possession of a prop- 
erty, or as ‘possessor’, man does certainly show himself as man; it 
was for this reason that we let the possessor, whom we called ‘pro- 
prietor’, keep his standing so long. Yet you possess the things only 
so long as you are not ‘put out of this property’. 

The possessor is competent, but only so far as the others are 
incompetent. Since your ware forms your competence only so long 
as you are competent to defend it (as we are not competent to do 
anything with it), look about you for another competence; for we 
now, by our might, surpass your alleged competence. 

It was an extraordinarily large gain made, when the point of being 
regarded as possessors was put through. Therein bond-service was 
abolished, and every one who until then had been bound to the lord’s 
service, and more or less had been his property, now became a ‘lord’. 
But henceforth your having, and what you have, are no longer 
adequate and no longer recognized; in contrast, your working and 
your work rise in value. We now respect your subduing things, as we 
formerly did your possessing them. Your work is your competence! 
You are lord or possessor only of what comes by work , not by inherit- 
ance. But as at the time everything has come by inheritance, and 
every groschen 244 that you possess bears not a labour-stamp but an 
inheritance-stamp, everything must be melted over. 

But is my work then really, as the communists suppose, my sole 
competence? Or does not this consist rather in everything that I am 
competent for? And does not the workers’ society itself have to con- 


The owner 

cede this, in supporting also the sick, children, old men - in short, 
those who are incapable of work? These are still competent for a 
good deal, for instance, to preserve their life instead of taking it. If 
they are competent to cause you to desire their continued existence, 
they have a power over you. To him who exercised utterly no power 
over you, you would vouchsafe nothing; he might perish. 

Therefore, what you are competent for is your competence ! If you are 
competent to furnish pleasure to thousands, then thousands will pay 
you an honorarium for it; for it would stand in your power to forbear 
doing it, hence they must purchase your deed. If you are not com- 
petent to captivate any one, you may simply starve. 

Now am I, who am competent for much, perchance to have no 
advantage over the less competent? 

We are all in the midst of abundance; now shall I not help myself 
as well as I can, but only wait and see how much is left me in an 
equal division? 

Against competition there rises up the principle of ragamuffin 
society - partition. 

To be looked upon as a mere part , part of society, the individual 
cannot bear - because he is more ; his uniqueness puts from it this 
limited conception. 

Hence he does not await his competence from the sharing of 
others, and even in the workers’ society there arises the misgiving 
that in an equal partition the strong will be exploited by the weak; 
he awaits his competence rather from himself, and says now, what I 
am competent to have, that is my competence. What competence 
does not the child possess in its smiling, its playing, its screaming! 
In short, in its mere existence! Are you capable of resisting its desire? 
Or do you not hold out to it, as mother, your breast; as father, as 
much of your possessions as it needs? It compels you, therefore it 
possesses what you call yours. 

If your person is of consequence to me, you pay me with your very 
existence; if I am concerned only with one of your qualities, then 
your compliance, perhaps, or your aid, has a value (a money value) 
for me, and I purchase it. 

If you do not know how to give yourself any other than a money 
value in my estimation, there may arise the case of which history tells 
us, that Germans, sons of the fatherland, were sold to America. 
Should those who let themselves to be traded in be worth more to 


The Ego and Its Own 

the seller? He preferred the cash to this living ware that did not 
understand how to make itself precious to him. That he discovered 
nothing more valuable in it was assuredly a defect of his competence; 
but it takes a rogue to give more than he has. How should he show 
respect when he did not have it, indeed, hardly could have it for such 
a pack! 

You behave egoistically when you respect each other neither as 
possessors nor as ragamuffins or workers, but as a part of your com- 
petence, as ‘ useful bodies'. Then you will neither give anything to the 
possessor (‘proprietor’) for his possessions, nor to him who works, 
but only to him whom you require. The North Americans ask them- 
selves: Do we require a king? And answer: Not a heller 245 are he and 
his work worth to us. 

If it is said that competition throws every thing open to all, the 
expression is not accurate, and it is better put thus: competition 
makes everything purchasable. In abandoning \preisgibt ] it to them, com- 
petition leaves it to their appraisal [Preise] or their estimation, and 
demands a price [Preis] for it. 

But the would-be buyers mostly lack the means to make themselves 
buyers: they have no money. For money, then, the purchasable things 
are indeed to be had (‘For money everything is to be had!’), but it is 
exactly money that is lacking. Where is one to get money, this current 
or circulating property? Know then, you have as much money [Geld] 
as you have - might; for you count for as much as you make yourself 
count [Geltung] for. 

One pays not with money, of which there may come a lack, but 
with his competence, by which alone we are ‘competent’; for one is 
proprietor only so far as the arm of our power reaches. 

Weitling has thought out a new means of payment - work. But the 
true means of payment remains, as always, competence. With what 
you have ‘within your competence’ you pay. Therefore think on the 
enlargement of your competence. 

This being admitted, they are nevertheless right on hand again 
with the motto, ‘To each according to his competence!’ Who is to 
give to me according to my competence? Society? Then I should have 
to put up with its estimation. Rather, I shall take according to my 

‘All belongs to all!’ This proposition springs from the same unsub- 
stantial theory. To each belongs only what he is competent for. If I 


The owner 

say: The world belongs to me, properly that too is empty talk, which 
has a meaning only in so far as I respect no alien property. But to 
me belongs only as much as I am competent for, or have within my 

One is not worthy to have what one, through weakness, lets be 
taken from him; one is not worthy of it because one is not capable 
of it. 

They raise a mighty uproar over the ‘wrong of a thousand years’ 
which is being committed by the rich against the poor. As if the rich 
were to blame for poverty, and the poor were not in like manner 
responsible for riches! Is there another difference between the two 
than that of competence and incompetence, of the competent and 
incompetent? Wherein, pray, does the crime of the rich consist? ‘In 
their hardheartedness’. But who then have maintained the poor? Who 
have cared for their nourishment? Who have given alms, those alms 
that have even their name from mercy ( eleemosyne ). 246 Have not the 
rich been ‘merciful’ at all times? Are they not to this day ‘tender- 
hearted’, as poor-taxes, hospitals, foundations of all sorts, etc., prove? 

But all this does not satisfy you! Doubtless, then, they are to share 
with the poor? Now you are demanding that they shall abolish poverty. 
Aside from the point that there might be hardly one among you who 
would act so, and that this one would be a fool for it, do ask your- 
selves: why should the rich let go their fleeces and give up themselves , 
thereby pursuing the advantage of the poor rather than their own? 
You, who have your thaler 247 daily, are rich above thousands who live 
on four groschen. Is it for your interest to share with the thousands, 
or is it not rather for theirs? 

With competition is connected less the intention to do the thing 
best than the intention to make it as profitable , as productive, as poss- 
ible. Hence people study to get into the civil service (study in order 
to get a well-paid job), study cringing and flattery, routine and 
‘acquaintance with business’, work ‘for appearance’. Hence, while it 
is apparently a matter of doing ‘good service’, in truth only a ‘good 
business’ and earning of money are looked out for. The job is done 
only ostensibly for the job’s sake, but in fact on account of the gain 
that it yields. One would indeed prefer not to be censor, but one 
wants to be - advanced; one would like to judge, administer, etc., 
according to his best convictions, but one is afraid of transfer or even 
dismissal; one must, above all things - live. 


The Ego and Its Own 

Thus these goings-on are a fight for dear life , and, in gradation 
upward, for more or less of a ‘good living’. 

And yet, at the same time, their whole round of toil and care 
brings in for most only ‘bitter life’ and ‘bitter poverty’. All the bitter 
painstaking for this! 

Restless acquisition does not let us take breath, take a calm enjoy- 
ment : we do not get the comfort of our possessions. 

But the organization of labour touches only such labours as others 
can do for us, slaughtering, tillage, and the like; the rest remain 
egoistic, because no one can in your place elaborate your musical 
compositions, carry out your projects of painting, etc.: nobody can 
replace Raphael’s 248 labours. The latter are labours of a unique 
person, which only he is competent to achieve, while the former 
deserved to be called ‘human’, since what is anybody’s own in them 
is of slight account, and almost ‘any man’ can be trained to it. 

Now, as society can regard only labours for the common benefit, 
human labours, he who does anything unique remains without its care; 
indeed, he may find himself disturbed by its intervention. The unique 
person will work himself forth out of society all right, but society 
brings forth no unique person. 

Hence it is at any rate helpful that we come to an agreement about 
human labours, that they may not, as under competition, claim all 
our time and toil. So far communism will bear its fruits. For before 
the dominion of the commonalty even that for which all men are 
qualified, or can be qualified, was tied up to a few and withheld from 
the rest: it was a privilege. To the commonalty it looked equitable to 
leave free all that seemed to exist for every ‘man’. But, because left 
free \freigegeben\, it was yet given [gegehen] to no one, but rather left 
to each to be got hold of by his human power. By this the mind was 
turned to the acquisition of the human, which henceforth beckoned 
to every one; and there arose a movement which one hears so loudly 
bemoaned under the name of ‘materialism’. 

Communism seeks to check its course, spreading the belief that 
the human is not worth so much discomfort, and, with sensible 
arrangements, could be gained without the great expense of time and 
powers which has hitherto seemed requisite. 

But for whom is time to be gained? For what does man require 
more time than is necessary to refresh his wearied powers of labour? 
Here communism is silent. 


The owner 

For what? To take comfort in himself as the unique, after he has 
done his part as man! 

In the first joy over being allowed to stretch out their hands toward 
everything human, people forgot to want anything else; and they com- 
peted away vigorously, as if the possession of the human were the 
goal of all our wishes. 

But they have run themselves tired, and are gradually noticing that 
‘possession does not give happiness’. Therefore they are thinking of 
obtaining the necessary by an easier bargain, and spending on it only 
so much time and toil as its indispensableness exacts. Riches fall in 
price, and contented poverty, the care-free ragamuffin, becomes the 
seductive ideal. 

Should such human activities, that every one is confident of his 
capacity for, be highly salaried, and sought for with toil and expendi- 
ture of all life-forces? Even in the everyday form of speech, ‘If I were 
minister, or even the — , then it should go quite otherwise’, that 
confidence expresses itself - that one holds himself capable of playing 
the part of such a dignitary; one does get a perception that to things 
of this sort there belongs not uniqueness, but only a culture which 
is attainable, even if not exactly by all, at any rate by many; that for 
such a thing one need only be an ordinary man. 

If we assume that, as order [Ordnung] belongs to the essence of the 
state, so subordination [ Unterordnung ] too is founded in its nature, then 
we see that the subordinates, or those who have received preferment, 
disproportionately overcharge and overreach those who are put in the 
lower ranks. But the latter take heart (first from the socialist stand- 
point, but certainly with egoistic consciousness later, of which we will 
therefore at once give their speech some colouring) for the question: 
By what then is your property secure, you creatures of preferment? - 
And give themselves the answer: By our refraining from interference! 
And so by our protection! And what do you give us for it? Kicks and 
disdain you give to the ‘common people’; police supervision, and a 
catechism with the chief sentence: ‘Respect what is not yours , what 
belongs to others! Respect others, and especially your superiors!’ But 
we reply, ‘If you want our respect, buy it for a price agreeable to us. 
We will leave you your property, if you give a due equivalent for this 
leaving’. Really, what equivalent does the General in time of peace 
give for the many thousands of his yearly income? - Another for the 
sheer hundred-thousands and millions yearly? What equivalent do 


The Ego and Its Own 

you give for our chewing potatoes and looking calmly on while you 
swallow oysters? Only buy the oysters of us as dear as we have to 
buy the potatoes of you, then you may go on eating them. Or do you 
suppose the oysters do not belong to us as much as to you? You will 
make an outcry over violence if we reach out our hands and help 
consume them, and you are right. Without violence we do not get 
them, as you no less have them by doing violence to us. 

But take the oysters and have done with it, and let us consider our 
nearer property, labour; for the other is only possession. We distress 
ourselves twelve hours in the sweat of our face, and you offer us a 
few groschen for it. Then take the like for your labour too. Are you 
not willing? You fancy that our labour is richly repaid with that wage, 
while yours on the other hand is worth a wage of many thousands. 
But, if you did not rate yours so high, and gave us a better chance 
to realize value from ours, then we might well, if the case demanded 
it, bring to pass still more important things than you do for the many 
thousand thalers; and, if you got only such wages as we, you would 
soon grow more industrious in order to receive more. But, if you 
render any service that seems to us worth ten and a hundred times 
more than our own labour, why, then you shall get a hundred times 
more for it too; we, on the other hand, think also to produce for you 
things for which you will requite us more highly than with the ordi- 
nary day’s wages. We shall be willing to get along with each other all 
right, if only we have first agreed on this - that neither any longer 
needs to - present anything to the other. Then we may perhaps actu- 
ally go so far as to pay even the cripples and sick and old an appropri- 
ate price for not parting from us by hunger and want; for, if we want 
them to live, it is fitting also that we - purchase the fulfilment of our 
will. I say ‘purchase’, and therefore do not mean a wretched ‘alms’. 
For their life is the property even of those who cannot work; if we 
(no matter for what reason) want them not to withdraw this life from 
us, we can mean to bring this to pass only by purchase; indeed, we 
shall perhaps (maybe because we like to have friendly faces about us) 
even want a life of comfort for them. In short, we want nothing 
presented by you, but neither will we present you with anything. For 
centuries we have handed alms to you from good-hearted - stupidity, 
have doled out the mite of the poor and given to the masters the 
things that are - not the masters’; now just open your wallet, for 
henceforth our ware rises in price quite enormously. We do not want 


The owner 

to take from you anything, anything at all, only you are to pay better 
for what you want to have. What then have you? ‘I have an estate of 
a thousand acres.’ And I am your ploughman, and will henceforth 
attend to your fields only for one thaler a day wages. ‘Then I’ll take 
another.’ You won’t find any, for we ploughmen are no longer doing 
otherwise, and, if one puts in an appearance who takes less, then let 
him beware of us. There is the housemaid, she too is now demanding 
as much, and you will no longer find one below this price. ‘Why, 
then it is all over with me.’ Not so fast! You will doubtless take in as 
much as we; and, if it should not be so, we will take off so much that 
you shall have the means to live like us. ‘But I am accustomed to live 
better.’ We have nothing against that, but it is not our lookout; if you 
can clear more, go ahead. Are we to hire out under rates, that you 
may have a good living? The rich man always puts off the poor with 
the words, ‘What does your want concern me? See to it how you 
make your way through the world; that is your affair, not mine.’ Well, 
let us let it be our affair, then, and let us not let the means that we 
have to realize value from ourselves be pilf ered from us by the rich. 
‘But you uncultured people really do not need so much.’ Well, we 
are taking somewhat more in order that for it we may procure the 
culture that we perhaps need. ‘But, if you thus bring down the rich, 
who is then to support the arts and sciences hereafter?’ Oh, well, we 
must make it up by numbers; we club together, that gives a nice little 
sum - besides, you rich men now buy only the most tasteless books 
and the most lamentable Madonnas or a pair of lively dancer’s legs. 
‘O ill-starred equality!’ No, my good old sir, nothing of equality. We 
only want to count for what we are worth, and, if you are worth more, 
you shall count for more right along. We only want to be worth our 
price , and think to show ourselves worth the price that you will pay. 

Is the state likely to be able to awaken so secure a temper and so 
forceful a self-consciousness in the menial? Can it make man feel 
himself? Indeed, may it even do so much as set this goal for itself? 
Can it want the individual to recognize his value and realize this value 
from himself? Let us keep the parts of the double question separate, 
and see first whether the state can bring about such a thing. As the 
unanimity of the ploughmen is required, only this unanimity can 
bring it to pass, and a state law would be evaded in a thousand ways 
by competition and in secret. But can the state bear with it? The 
state cannot possibly bear with people’s suffering coercion from 


The Ego and Its Own 

another than it; it could not, therefore, admit the self-help of the 
unanimous ploughmen against those who want to engage for lower 
wages. Suppose, however, that the state made the law, and all the 
ploughmen were in accord with it: could the state bear with it then? 

In the isolated case - yes; but the isolated case is more than that, 
it is a case of principle. The question therein is of the whole range of 
the ego's self-realization of value from himself [Selbstverwertung des Ichs \ , 
and therefore also of his self-consciousness [Selbstgefiihls] against the 
state. So far the communists keep company; but, as self-realization 
of value from self necessarily directs itself against the state, so it does 
against society too, and therewith reaches out beyond the commune 
and the communistic - out of egoism. 

Communism makes the maxim of the commonalty, that every one 
is a possessor (‘proprietor’), into an irrefragable truth, into a reality, 
since the anxiety about obtaining now ceases and every one has from 
the start what he requires. In his labour power he has his competence, 
and, if he makes no use of it, that is his fault. The grasping and 
hounding is at an end, and no competition is left (as so often now) 
without success, because with every stroke of labour an adequate 
supply of the needful is brought into the house. Now for the first 
time one is a real possessor , because what one has in his labour power 
can no longer escape from him as it was continually threatening to 
do under the system of competition. One is a care-free and assured 
possessor. And one is this precisely by seeking his competence no 
longer in a ware, but in his own labour, his competence for labour; 
and therefore by being a ragamuffin , a man of only ideal wealth. /, 
however, cannot content myself with the little that I scrape up by my 
competence for labour, because my competence does not consist 
merely in my labour. 

By labour I can perform the official functions of a president, a 
minister, etc.; these offices demand only a general culture - namely, 
such a culture as is generally attainable (for general culture is not 
merely that which every one has attained, but broadly that which 
every one can attain, and therefore every special culture, medical, 
military, philological, of which no ‘cultivated man’ believes that they 
surpass his powers), or, broadly, only a skill possible to all. 

But, even if these offices may devolve upon every one, yet it is only 
the individual’s unique force, peculiar to him alone, that gives them, 
so to speak, life and significance. That he does not manage his office 
like an ‘ordinary man’, but puts in the competence of his uniqueness, 


The owner 

this he is not yet paid for when he is paid only in general as an official 
or a minister. If he has done it so as to earn your thanks, and you 
wish to retain this thankworthy force of the unique one, you must 
not pay him like a mere man who performed only what was human, 
but as one who accomplishes what is unique. Do the like with your 
labour, do! 

There cannot be a general valuation fixed for my uniqueness as 
there can for what I do as man. Only for the latter can a valuation 
be set. 

Go right on, then, setting up a general appraisal for human labours, 
but do not deprive your uniqueness of its desert. 

Human or general needs can be satisfied through society; for satis- 
faction of unique needs you must do some seeking. A friend and a 
friendly service, or even an individual’s service, society cannot pro- 
cure you. And yet you will every moment be in need of such a service, 
and on the slightest occasions require somebody who is helpful to 
you. Therefore do not rely on society, but see to it that you have the 
wherewithal to - purchase the fulfilment of your wishes. 

Whether money is to be retained among egoists? To the old stamp 
an inherited possession adheres. If you no longer let yourselves be 
paid with it, it is ruined: if you do nothing for this money, it loses all 
power. Cancel the inheritance , and you have broken off the executor’s 
court-seal. For now everything is an inheritance, whether it be already 
inherited or await its heir. If it is yours, for what end do you let it 
be sealed up from you? Why do you respect the seal? 

But why should you not create a new money? Do you then annihil- 
ate the ware in taking from it the hereditary stamp? Now, money is 
a ware, and an essential means or competence. For it protects against 
the ossification of resources, keeps them in flux and brings to pass 
their exchange. If you know a better medium of exchange, go ahead; 
yet it will be a ‘money’ again. It is not the money that does you 
damage, but your incompetence to take it. Let your competence take 
effect, collect yourselves, and there will be no lack of money - of 
your money, the money of your stamp. But working I do not call 
‘letting your competence take effect’. Those who are only ‘looking 
for work’ and ‘willing to work hard’ are preparing for their own selves 
the infallible upshot - to be out of work. 

Good and bad luck depend on money. It is a power in the bour- 
geois period for this reason, that it is only wooed on all sides like a 
girl, indissolubly wedded by nobody. All the romance and chivalry of 


The Ego and Its Own 

wooing for a dear object come to life again in competition. Money, 
an object of longing, is carried off by the bold ‘knights of industry ’. 249 

He who has luck takes home the bride. The ragamuffin has luck; 
he takes her into his household, ‘society’, and destroys the virgin. In 
his house she is no longer bride, but wife; and with her virginity her 
family name is also lost. As housewife the maiden Money is called 
‘Labour’, for ‘Labour’ is her husband’s name. She is a possession of 
her husband’s. 

To bring this figure to an end, the child of Labour and Money is 
again a girl, an unwedded one and therefore Money but with the 
certain descent from Labour, her father. The form of the face, the 
‘effigy’, bears another stamp. 

Finally, as regards competition once more, it has a continued exist- 
ence by this very means, that all do not attend to their affair and come 
to an understanding with each other about it. Bread is a need of all 
the inhabitants of a city; therefore they might easily agree on setting 
up a public bakery. Instead of this, they leave the furnishing of the 
needful to the competing bakers. Just so meat to the butchers, wine 
to wine-dealers, etc. 

Abolishing competition is not equivalent to favouring the guild. 
The difference is this: In the guild baking, etc., is the affair of the 
guild-brothers; in competition , the affair of chance competitors; in the 
union , of those who require baked goods, and therefore my affair, 
yours, the affair of neither the guildic nor the concessionary baker, 
but the affair of the united. 

If I do not trouble myself about my affair, I must be content with 
what it pleases others to vouchsafe me. To have bread is my affair, 
my wish and desire, and yet people leave that to the bakers and hope 
at most to obtain through their wrangling, their getting ahead of each 
other, their rivalry - in short, their competition - an advantage which 
one could not count on in the case of the guild-brothers who were 
lodged entirely and alone in the proprietorship of the baking fran- 
chise. - What every one requires, every one should also take a hand 
in procuring and producing; it is his affair, his property, not the 
property of the guildic or concessionary master. 

Let us look back once more. The world belongs to the children 
of this world, the children of men; it is no longer God’s world, but 
man’s. As much as every man can procure of it, let him call his; only 
the true man, the state, human society or mankind, will look to it 


The owner 

that each shall make nothing else his own than what he appropriates 
as man, in human fashion. Unhuman appropriation is that which is 
not consented to by man, that is, it is a ‘criminal 5 appropriation, as 
the human, conversely, is a ‘rightful 5 one, one acquired in the ‘way 
of law 5 . 

So they talk since the revolution. 

But my property is not a thing, since this has an existence indepen- 
dent of me; only my might is my own. Not this tree, but my might 
or control over it, is what is mine. 

Now, how is this might perversely expressed? They say I have a 
right to this tree, or it is my rightful property. So I have earned it by 
might. That the might must last in order that the tree may also be 
held - or better, that the might is not a thing existing of itself, but 
has existence solely in the mighty ego , in me the mighty - is forgotten. 
Might, like other of my qualities (humanity, majesty, etc.), is exalted 
to something existing of itself, so that it still exists long af ter it has 
ceased to be my might. Thus transformed into a ghost, might is - 
right. This eternalized might is not extinguished even with my death, 
but is transferred or ‘bequeathed 5 . 

Things now really belong not to me, but to right. 

On the other side, this is nothing but a hallucination of vision. For 
the individual’s might becomes permanent and a right only by others 
joining their might with his. The delusion consists in their believing 
that they cannot withdraw their might. The same phenomenon over 
again; might is separated from me. I cannot take back the might that 
I gave to the possessor. One has ‘granted power of attorney 5 , has 
given away his power, has renounced coming to a better mind. 

The proprietor can give up his might and his right to a thing by 
giving the thing away, squandering it, and the like. And we should 
not be able likewise to let go the might that we lend to him? 

The rightful man, the just , desires to call nothing his own that he 
does not have ‘rightly 5 or have the right to, and therefore only legit- 
imate property. 

Now, who is to be judge, and adjudge his right to him? At last, 
surely, man, who imparts to him the rights of man: then he can say, 
in an infinitely broader sense than Terence , 250 ‘humani nihil a me 
alienum puto 5 , that is, the human is my property. However he may go 
about it, so long as he occupies this standpoint he cannot get clear 
of a judge; and in our time the multifarious judges that had been 


The Ego and Its Own 

selected have set themselves against each other in two persons at 
deadly enmity, namely, in God and man. The one party appeal to 
divine right, the other to human right or the rights of man. 

So much is clear, that in neither case does the individual do the 
entitling himself. 

Just pick me out an action today that would not be a violation of 
right! Every moment the rights of man are trampled under foot by 
one side, while their opponents cannot open their mouth without 
uttering a blasphemy against divine right. Give alms, you mock at a 
right of man, because the relation of beggar and benefactor is an 
inhuman relation; utter a doubt, you sin against a divine right. Eat 
dry bread with contentment, you violate the right of man by your 
equanimity; eat it with discontent, you revile divine right by your 
reluctance. There is not one among you who does not commit a crime 
at every moment; your speeches are crimes, and every hindrance 
to your freedom of speech is no less a crime. You are criminals 

Yet you are so only in that you all stand on the ground of right , in 
that you do not even know, and understand how to value, the fact 
that you are criminals. 

Inviolable or sacred property has grown on this very ground: it is a 
juridical concept. 

A dog sees the bone in another’s power, and stands off only if it 
feels itself too weak. But man respects the other’s right to his bone. 
The latter action, therefore, ranks as human , the former as brutal or 

And as here, so in general, it is called ‘ human ’ when one sees in 
everything something spiritual (here right), makes everything a ghost 
and takes his attitude toward it as toward a ghost, which one can 
indeed scare away at its appearance, but cannot kill. It is human to 
look at what is individual not as individual, but as a generality. 

In nature as such I no longer respect anything, but know myself 
to be entitled to everything against it; in the tree in that garden, on 
the other hand, I must respect alienness (they say in one-sided fashion 
‘property’), I must keep my hand off it. This comes to an end only 
when I can indeed leave that tree to another as I leave my stick, etc., 
to another, but do not in advance regard it as alien to me, sacred. 
Rather, I make to myself no crime of felling it if I will, and it remains 
my property, however long as I resign it to others: it is and remains 


The owner 

mine. In the banker’s fortune I as little see anything alien as Napoleon 
did in the territories of kings: we have no dread of ‘conquering' it, and 
we look about us also for the means to that end. We strip off from 
it, therefore, the spirit of alienness , of which we had been afraid. 

Therefore it is necessary that I do not lay claim to anything more 
as man , but to everything as I, this I; and accordingly to nothing 
human, but to mine; that is, nothing that pertains to me as man, 
but - what I will and because I will it. 

Rightful, or legitimate, property of another will be only that which 
you are content to recognize as such. If your content ceases, then this 
property has lost legitimacy for you, and you will laugh at the absolute 
right to it. 

Besides the hitherto discussed property in the limited sense, there 
is held up to our reverent heart another property against which we 
are far less ‘to sin’. This property consists in spiritual goods, in the 
‘sanctuary of the inner nature’. What a man holds sacred, no other 
is to taunt; because, untrue as it may be, and zealously as one may 
‘in loving and modest wise’ seek to convince of a true sanctity the 
man who adheres to it and believes in it, yet the sacred itself is always 
to be honoured in it: the mistaken man does believe in the sacred, 
even though in an incorrect essence of it, and so his belief in the 
sacred must at least be respected. 

In ruder times than ours it was customary to demand a particular 
faith, and devotion to a particular sacred essence, and they did not 
take the gentlest way with those who believed otherwise; since, how- 
ever, ‘f reedom of belief’ spread itself more and more abroad, the 
‘jealous God and sole Lord’ gradually melted into a pretty general 
‘supreme being’, and it satisfied humane tolerance if only every one 
revered ‘something sacred’. 

Reduced to the most human expression, this sacred essence is 
‘man himself’ and ‘the human’. With the deceptive semblance as if 
the human were altogether our own, and free from all the other- 
worldliness with which the divine is tainted - yes, as if man were as 
much as I or you - there may arise even the proud fancy that the 
talk is no longer of a ‘sacred essence’ and that we now feel ourselves 
everywhere at home [heimisch] and no longer in the uncanny [Unheim- 
lichen ], in the sacred and in sacred awe: in the ecstasy over ‘man 
discovered at last’ the egoistic cry of pain passes unheard, and the 
spook that has become so intimate is taken f or our true ego. 


The Ego and Its Own 

But ‘Humanus is the saint’s name’ (see Goethe ), 251 and the 
humane is only the most clarified sanctity. 

The egoist makes the reverse declaration. For this precise reason, 
because you hold something sacred, I taunt you; and, even if I 
respected everything in you, your sanctuary is precisely what I should 
not respect. 

With these opposed views there must also be assumed a contradic- 
tory relation to spiritual goods: the egoist insults them, the religious 
man (every one who puts his ‘essence’ above himself) must consist- 
ently - protect them. But what kind of spiritual goods are to be 
protected, and what left unprotected, depends entirely on the concept 
that one forms of the ‘supreme being’; and he who fears God, for 
example, has more to shelter than he (the liberal) who fears man. 

In spiritual goods we are (in distinction from the sensuous) injured 
in a spiritual way, and the sin against them consists in a direct des- 
ecration , while against the sensuous a purloining [ Entwendung ] or 
alienation [ Entfremdung ] takes place; the goods themselves are robbed 
of value and of consecration, not merely taken away; the sacred is 
immediately compromised. With the word ‘irreverence’ or ‘flippancy’ 
is designated everything that can be committed as crime against spiri- 
tual goods, against everything that is sacred for us; and scoffing, 
reviling, contempt, doubt, and the like, are only different shades of 
criminal flippancy. 

That desecration can be practised in the most manifold way is here 
to be passed over, and only that desecration is to be preferentially 
mentioned which threatens the sacred with danger through an unre- 
stricted press. 

As long as respect is demanded even for one spiritual essence, 
speech and the press must be enthralled in the name of this essence; 
for just so long the egoist might ‘trespass’ against it by his utterances , 
from which thing he must be hindered by ‘due punishment’ at least, 
if one does not prefer to take up the more correct means against it, 
the preventive use of police authority, such as censorship. 

What a sighing for liberty of the press! What then is the press to 
be liberated from? Surely from a dependence, a belonging, and a 
liability to service! But to liberate himself from that is every one’s 
affair, and it may with safety be assumed that, when you have deliv- 
ered yourself from liability to service, that which you compose and 
write will also belong to you as your own instead of having been 


The owner 

thought and indicted in the service of some power. What can a believer 
in Christ say and have printed, that should be freer from that belief 
in Christ than he himself is? If I cannot or may not write something, 
perhaps the primary fault lies with me. Little as this seems to hit the 
point, so near is the application nevertheless to be found. By a press- 
law I draw a boundary for my publications, or let one be drawn, 
beyond which wrong and its punishment follows. I myself limit myself. 

If the press was to be free, nothing would be so important as 
precisely its liberation from every coercion that could be put on it in 
the name of a law. And, that it might come to that, I my own self 
should have to have absolved myself from obedience to the law. 

Certainly, the absolute liberty of the press is like every absolute 
liberty, a nonentity. The press can become free from full many a 
thing, but always only from what I too am free from. If we make 
ourselves free from the sacred, if we have become graceless and lawless , 
our words too will become so. 

As little as we can be declared clear of every coercion in the world, 
so little can our writing be withdrawn from it. But as free as we are, 
so free we can make it too. 

It must therefore become our own , instead of, as hitherto, serving 
a spook. 

People do not yet know what they mean by their cry for liberty of 
the press. What they ostensibly ask is that the state shall set the press 
free; but what they are really after, without knowing it themselves, is 
that the press become free from the state, or clear of the state. The 
former is a petition to [Petition an] the state, the latter an insurrection 
against [Emporung gegen] the state. As a ‘petition for right’, even as a 
serious demanding of the right of liberty of the press, it presupposes 
the state as the giver, and can hope only for a present , a permission, 
a chartering. Possible, no doubt, that a state acts so senselessly as to 
grant the demanded present; but you may bet everything that those 
who receive the present will not know how to use it so long as they 
regard the state as a truth: they will not trespass against this ‘sacred 
thing’, and will call for a penal press-law against every one who would 
be willing to dare this. 

In a word, the press does not become free from what I am not 
free from. 

Do I perhaps hereby show myself an opponent of the liberty of 
the press? On the contrary, I only assert that one will never get it if 


The Ego and Its Own 

one wants only it, the liberty of the press, if one sets out only for an 
unrestricted permission. Only beg right along for this permission: 
you may wait forever for it, for there is no one in the world who 
could give it to you. As long as you want to have yourselves ‘entitled’ 
to the use of the press by a permission, you live in vain hope and 

‘Nonsense! Why, you yourself, who harbour such thoughts as stand 
in your book, can unfortunately bring them to publicity only through a 
lucky chance or by stealth; nevertheless you will inveigh against one’s 
pressing and importuning his own state until it gives the refused per- 
mission to print?’ But an author thus addressed would perhaps - for 
the impudence of such people goes far -give the following reply: ‘Con- 
sider well what you say! What then do I do to procure myself liberty of 
the press for my book? Do I ask for permission, or do I not rather, with- 
out any question of legality, seek a favourable occasion and grasp it in 
complete recklessness of the state and its wishes? I - the terrifying word 
must be uttered - I cheat the state. You unconsciously do the same. 
From your tribunes you talk it into the idea that it must give up its sanc- 
tity and inviolability, it must lay itself bare to the attacks of writers, with- 
out needing on that account to fear danger. But you are imposing on it; 
for its existence is done for as soon as it loses its unapproachableness. 
To you indeed it might well accord liberty of writing, as England has 
done; you are believers in the state and incapable of writing against the 
state, however much you would like to reform it and “remedy its 
defects”. But what if opponents of the state availed themselves of free 
utterance, and stormed out against church, state, morals, and every- 
thing “sacred” with inexorable reasons? You would then be the first, in 
terrible agonies, to call into life the September Laws . 231 Too late would 
you then rue the stupidity that earlier made you so ready to fool and 
flatter into compliance the state, or the government of the state. - But, 
I prove by my act only two things. This for one, that the liberty of the 
press is always bound to “favourable opportunities”, and accordingly 
will never be an absolute liberty; but secondly this, that he who would 
enjoy it must seek out and, if possible, create the favourable oppor- 
tunity, availing himself of his own advantage against the state; and count- 
ing himself and his will more than the state and every “superior” power. 
Not in the state, but only against it, can the liberty of the press be carried 
through; if it is to be established, it is to be obtained not as the 

2 5 ° 

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consequence of a request [. Bitte ] but as the work of an insurrection. Every 
request and every plea for liberty of the press is already an insurrec- 
tion, be it conscious or unconscious: a thing which philistine halfness 
alone will not and cannot confess to itself until, with a shrinking shud- 
der, it shall see it clearly and irrefutably by the outcome. For the 
requested liberty of the press has indeed a friendly and well-meaning 
face at the beginning, as it is not in the least disposed ever to let the 
“insolence of the press” come into vogue; but little by little its heart 
grows more hardened, and the inference flatters its way in that really a 
liberty is not a liberty if it stands in the service of the state, of morals, or 
of the law. A liberty indeed from the coercion of censorship, it is yet 
not a liberty from the coercion of law. The press, once seized by the 
lust for liberty, always wants to grow freer, until at last the writer says 
to himself, really I am not wholly free until I ask about nothing; and 
writing is free only when it is my own , dictated to me by no power or 
authority, by no faith, no dread; the press must not be free - that is too 
little - it must be mine: - ownness of the press or property in the press, that 
is what I will take. 

‘Why, liberty of the press is only permission of the press , and the 
state never will or can voluntarily permit me to grind it to nothingness 
by the press. 

‘Let us now, in conclusion, bettering the above language, which is 
still vague, owing to the phrase “liberty of the press”, rather put it thus: 
liberty of the press, the liberals’ loud demand, is assuredly possible in the 
state; yes, it is possible only in the state, because it is a permission, and 
consequently the permitter (the state) must not be lacking. But as per- 
mission it has its limit in this very state, which surely should not in 
reason permit more than is compatible with itself and its welfare: the 
state fixes for it this limit as the law of its existence and of its extension. 
That one state brooks more than another is only a quantitative distinc- 
tion, which alone, nevertheless, lies at the heart of the political liberals: 
they want in Germany, for example, only a u more extended , broader 
accordance of free utterance”. The liberty of the press which is sought 
for is an affair of xhz people’s, and before the people (the state) possesses 
it I may make no use of it. From the standpoint of property in the press, 
the situation is different. Let my people, if they will, go without liberty 
of press, I will manage to print by force or ruse; I get my permission to 
print only from - myself &n<\ my strength. 


The Ego and Its Own 

‘If the press is my own , I as little need a permission of the state 
for employing it as I seek that permission in order to blow my nose. 
The press is my property from the moment when nothing is more to 
me than myself; for from this moment state, church, people, society, 
and the like, cease, because they have to thank for their existence 
only the disrespect that I have for myself, and with the vanishing of 
this undervaluation they themselves are extinguished: they exist only 
when they exist above me , exist only as powers and power -holders. Or 
can you imagine a state whose citizens one and all think nothing of 
it? It would be as certainly a dream, an existence in appearance, as 
“united Germany”. 

‘The press is my own as soon as I myself am my own, a self-owned 
man: to the egoist belongs the world, because he belongs to no power 
of the world. 

‘With this my press might still be very unfree , as at this moment. 
But the world is large, and one helps himself as well as he can. If I 
were willing to abate from the property of my press, I could easily 
attain the point where I might everywhere have as much printed as 
my fingers produced. But, as I want to assert my property, I must 
necessarily swindle my enemies. “Would you not accept their per- 
mission if it were given you?” Certainly, with joy; for their permission 
would be to me a proof that I had fooled them and started them on 
the road to ruin. I am not concerned for their permission, but so 
much the more for their folly and their overthrow. I do not pursue 
their permission as if I flattered myself (like the political liberals) that 
we both, they and I, could make out peaceably alongside and with 
each other, yes, probably lift and support each other; but I pursue it 
in order to make them bleed to death by it, that the permitters them- 
selves may cease at last. I act as a conscious enemy, overreaching 
them and utilizing their heedlessness. 

‘The press is mine when I recognize outside myself no judge what- 
ever over its utilization, when my writing is no longer determined by 
morality or religion or respect for the state laws or the like, but by 
me and my egoism!’ 

Now, what have you to reply to him who gives you so impudent 
an answer? - We shall perhaps put the question most strikingly by 
phrasing it as follows: Whose is the press, the people’s (state’s) or 
mine? The politicals on their side intend nothing further than to 
liberate the press from personal and arbitrary interferences of the 


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possessors of power, without thinking of the point that to be really 
open for everybody it would also have to be free from the laws, from 
the people’s (state’s) will. They want to make a ‘people’s affair’ of it. 

But, having become the people’s property, it is still far from being 
mine; rather, it retains for me the subordinate significance of a per- 
mission. The people plays judge over my thoughts; it has the right of 
calling me to account for them, or, I am responsible to it for them. 
Jurors, when their fixed ideas are attacked, have just as hard heads 
as the stiffest despots and their servile officials. 

In Die liberalen Bestrebungen a Edgar Bauer asserts that liberty of the 
press is impossible in the absolutist and the constitutional state, 
whereas in the ‘free state’ it finds its place. ‘Here’, the statement is, 
‘it is recognized that the individual, because he is no longer an indi- 
vidual but a member of a true and rational generality, has the right 
to utter his mind’. So not the individual, but the ‘member’, has liberty 
of the press. But, if for the purpose of liberty of the press the individ- 
ual must first give proof of himself regarding his belief in the gener- 
ality, the people; if he does not have this liberty through might of his 
own - then it is a people's liberty , a liberty that he is invested with for 
the sake of his faith, his ‘membership’. The reverse is the case: it is 
precisely as an individual that every one has open to him the liberty 
to utter his mind. But he has not the ‘right’: that liberty is assuredly 
not his ‘sacred right’. He has only the might; but the might alone 
makes him owner. I need no concession for the liberty of the press, 
do not need the people’s consent to it, do not need the ‘right’ to it, 
nor any ‘justification’. The liberty of the press too, like every liberty, 
I must ‘take’; the people, ‘as being the sole judge’, cannot give it to 
me. It can put up with me the liberty that I take, or defend itself 
against it; give, bestow, grant it it cannot. I exercise it despite the 
people, purely as an individual; I get it by fighting the people, my - 
enemy, and obtain it only when I really get it by such fighting, take 
it. But I take it because it is my property. 

Sander , 253 against whom E. Bauer writes, lays claim to the liberty 
of the press ‘as the right and the liberty of the citizens in the state*. b 
What else does Edgar Bauer do? To him also it is only a right of the 
free citizen. 

“ Edgar Bauer, Die liberalen Bestrebmgen in Deutschland (Zurich and Winterthur, 1843), 

no. 2, pp. 9 iff. (See my note above.) 
h Ibid. p. 99. 


The Ego and Its Own 

The liberty of the press is also demanded under the name of a 
‘general human right’. Against this the objection was established that 
not every man knew how to use it rightly, for not every individual 
was truly man. Never did a government refuse it to man as such; but 
man writes nothing, for the reason that he is a ghost. It always refused 
it to individuals only, and gave it to others, its organs. If then one 
would have it for all, one must assert outright that it is due to the 
individual, me, not to man or to the individual so far as he is man. 
Besides, another than a man (a beast) can make no use of it. The 
French government, for example, does not dispute the liberty of the 
press as a right of man, but demands from the individual a security 
for his really being man; for it assigns liberty of the press not to the 
individual, but to man. 

Under the exact pretence that it was not human , what was mine 
was taken from me! What was human was left to me undiminished. 

Liberty of the press can bring about only a responsible press; the 
irresponsible proceeds solely from property in the press. 

For intercourse with men an express law (conformity to which one 
may venture at times sinfully to forget, but the absolute value of 
which one at no time ventures to deny) is placed foremost among all 
who live religiously: this is the law - of love , to which not even those 
who seem to fight against its principle, and who hate its name, have 
as yet become untrue; for they also still have love, yes, they love with 
a deeper and more sublimated love, they love ‘man and mankind’. 

If we formulate the sense of this law, it will be about as follows: 
Every man must have a something that is more to him than himself. 
You are to put your ‘private interest’ in the background when it is a 
question of the welfare of others, the weal of the fatherland, of 
society, the common weal, the weal of mankind, the good cause, and 
the like! Fatherland, society, mankind, must be more to you than 
yourself, and as against their interest your ‘private interest’ must stand 
back; for you must not be an - egoist. 

Love is a far-reaching religious demand, which is not, as might be 
supposed, limited to love toward God and man, but stands foremost 
in every regard. Whatever we do, think, will, the ground of it is always 
to be love. Thus we may indeed judge, but only ‘with love’. The 
Bible may assuredly be criticized, and that very thoroughly, but the 
critic must before all things love it and see in it the sacred book. Is 


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this anything else than to say he must not criticize it to death, he 
must leave it standing, and that as a sacred thing that cannot be 
upset? - In our criticism of men too, love must remain the unchanged 
key-note. Certainly judgements that hatred inspires are not at all our 
own judgements, but judgements of the hatred that rules us, ‘rancor- 
ous judgements’. But are judgements that love inspires in us any 
more our own ? They are judgements of the love that rules us, they 
are ‘loving, lenient’ judgements, they are not our own , and accordingly 
not real judgements at all. He who burns with love for justice cries 
out, fiat iustitia, pereat mundusl He can doubtless ask and investigate 
what justice properly is or demands, and in what it consists, but not 
whether it is anything. 

It is very true, ‘He who abides in love abides in God, and God in 
him’. fl God abides in him, he does not get rid of God, does not 
become godless; and he abides in God, does not come to himself 
and into his own home, abides in love towards God and does not 
become loveless. 

‘God is love! All times and all generations recognize in this word 
the central point of Christianity.’ God, who is love, is an officious 
God: he cannot leave the world in peace, but wants to make it blest. 
‘God became man to make men divine.’* He has his hand in the 
game everywhere, and nothing happens without it; everywhere he has 
his ‘best purposes’, his ‘incomprehensible plans and decrees’. 
Reason, which he himself is, is to be forwarded and realized in the 
whole world. His fatherly care deprives us of all independence. We 
can do nothing sensible without its being said, God did that, and can 
bring upon ourselves no misfortune without hearing, God ordained 
that; we have nothing that we have not from him, he ‘gave’ everything. 
But, as God does, so does man. God wants perforce to make the 
world blest, and man wants to make it happy , to make all men happy. 
Hence every ‘man’ wants to awaken in all men the reason which he 
supposes his own self to have: everything is to be rational throughout. 
God torments himself with the devil, and the philosopher does it 
with unreason and the accidental. God lets no being go its own gait, 
and man likewise wants to make us walk only in human manner. 

But whoever is full of sacred (religious, moral, humane) love loves 
only the spook, the ‘true man’, and persecutes with dull mercilessness 

a i John 4:16. h Athanasius. 2S4 


The Ego and Its Own 

the individual, the real man, under the phlegmatic legal title of meas- 
ures against the ‘un-man’. He finds it praiseworthy and indispensable 
to exercise pitilessness in the harshest measure; for love toward the 
spook or generality commands him to hate him who is not ghostly, 
the egoist or individual; such is the meaning of the renowned love- 
phenomenon that is called ‘justice’. 

The criminally arraigned man can expect no forbearance, and no 
one spreads a friendy veil over his unhappy nakedness. Without emo- 
tion the stem judge tears the last rags of excuse from the body of 
the poor accused; without compassion the jailer drags him into his 
damp abode; without conciliation, when the time of punishment has 
expired, he thrusts the branded man again among men, his good, 
Christian, loyal brethren, who contemptuously spit on him. Yes, with- 
out grace a criminal ‘deserving of death’ is led to the scaffold, and 
before the eyes of a jubilating crowd the appeased moral law cel- 
ebrates its sublime - revenge. For only one can live, the moral law 
or the criminal. Where criminals live unpunished, the moral law has 
fallen; and, where this prevails, those must go down. Their enmity 
is indestructible. 

The Christian age is precisely that of mercy , love , solicitude to have 
men receive what is due them, yes, to bring them to fulfil their human 
(divine) calling. Therefore the principle has been put foremost for 
intercourse, that this and that is man’s essence and consequently his 
calling, to which either God has called him or (according to the 
concepts of today) his being man (the species) calls him. Hence the 
zeal for conversion. That the communists and the humane expect 
from man more than the Christians do does not change the stand- 
point in the least. Man shall get what is human! If it was enough for 
the pious that what was divine became his part, the humane demand 
that he be not curtailed of what is human. Both set themselves against 
what is egoistic. Of course; for what is egoistic cannot be accorded 
to him or vested in him (a fief); he must procure it for himself. Love 
imparts the former, the latter can be given to me by myself alone. 

Intercourse hitherto has rested on love, regardful behaviour, doing 
for each other. As one owed it to himself to make himself blessed, 
or owed himself the bliss of taking up into himself the supreme 
essence and bringing it to a verite (a truth and reality), so one owed 
it to others to help them realize their essence and their calling: in 


The owner 

both cases one owed it to the essence of man to contribute to its 

But one owes it neither to himself to make anything out of himself, 
nor to others to make anything out of them; for one owes nothing to 
his essence and that of others. Intercourse resting on essence is an 
intercourse with the spook, not with anything real. If I hold inter- 
course with the supreme essence, I am not holding intercourse with 
myself, and, if I hold intercourse with the essence of man, I am not 
holding intercourse with men. 

The natural man’s love becomes through culture a commandment. 
But as commandment it belongs to man as such, not to me; it is my 
essence [We sen], about which much fuss [Wesens] is made, not my 
property. Man , humanity, presents that demand to me; love is 
demanded , it is my duty. Instead, therefore, of being really won for 
me , it has been won for the generality, man , as his property or peculi- 
arity: ‘it becomes man, every man, to love; love is the duty and calling 
of man’, etc. 

Consequently I must again vindicate love for myself, and deliver it 
out of the power of Man with a capital M. 

What was originally mine, but accidentally mine, instinctively mine, 
I was invested with as the property of man; I became the feoffee in 
loving, I became the retainer of mankind, only a specimen of this 
species, and acted, loving, not as I, but as man, as a specimen of 
man, the humanly. The whole condition of civilization is the feudal 
system, the property being man’s or mankind’s, not mine. A monstrous 
feudal state was founded, the individual robbed of everything, every- 
thing left to ‘man’. The individual had to appear at last as a ‘sinner 
through and through’. 

Am I perchance to have no lively interest in the person of 
another, are his joy and his weal not to lie at my heart, is the 
enjoyment that I furnish him not to be more to me than other 
enjoyments of my own? On the contrary, I can with joy sacrifice 
to him numberless enjoyments, I can deny myself numberless 
things for the enhancement of his pleasure, and I can risk for him 
what without him was the dearest to me, my life, my welfare, my 
freedom. Why, it constitutes my pleasure and my happiness to 
refresh myself with his happiness and his pleasure. But myself, my 
own self, I do not sacrifice to him, but remain an egoist and - 


The Ego and Its Own 

enjoy him. If I sacrifice to him everything that but for my love to 
him I should keep, that is very simple, and even more usual in 
life than it seems to be; but it proves nothing further than that 
this one passion is more powerful in me than all the rest. Christian- 
ity too teaches us to sacrifice all other passions to this. But, if to 
one passion I sacrifice others, I do not on that account go so far 
as to sacrifice myself, nor sacrifice anything of that whereby I truly 
am myself; I do not sacrifice my peculiar value, my ownness. Where 
this bad case occurs, love cuts no better figure than any other 
passion that I obey blindly. The ambitious man, who is carried 
away by ambition and remains deaf to every warning that a calm 
moment generates in him, has let this passion grow up into a 
despot against whom he abandons all power of dissolution: he has 
given up himself, because he cannot dissolve himself, and conse- 
quently cannot absolve himself from the passion: he is possessed. 

I love men too, not merely individuals, but every one. But I love 
them with the consciousness of egoism; I love them because love 
makes me happy, I love because loving is natural to me, because it 
pleases me. I know no ‘commandment of love’. I have a fellow-feeling 
with every feeling being, and their torment torments, their refresh- 
ment refreshes me too; I can kill them, not torture them. In contrast, 
the high-souled virtuous philistine prince Rudolph in The Mysteries 
of Paris , 255 because the wicked provoke his ‘indignation’, plans their 
torture. That fellow-feeling proves only that the feeling of those who 
feel is mine too, my property; in opposition to which the pitiless 
dealing of the ‘righteous’ man (as against notary Ferrand) is like the 
unfeelingness of that robber who cut off or stretched his prisoners’ 
legs to the measure of his bedstead : 256 Rudolph’s bedstead, which 
he cuts men to fit, is the concept of the ‘good’. The feeling for right, 
virtue, etc., makes people hard-hearted and intolerant. Rudolph does 
not feel like the notary, but the reverse; he feels that ‘it serves the 
rascal right’; that is no fellow-feeling. 

You love man, therefore you torture the individual man, the egoist; 
your philanthropy (love of men) is the tormenting of men. 

If I see the loved one suffer, I suffer with him, and I know no rest 
until I have tried everything to comfort and cheer him; if I see him 
glad, I too become glad over his joy. From this it does not follow 
that suffering or joy is caused in me by the same thing that brings 
out this effect in him, as is sufficiently proved by every bodily pain 


The owner 

which I do not feel as he does; his tooth pains him, but his pain pains 

But, because I cannot bear the troubled crease on the beloved 
forehead, for that reason, and therefore for my sake, I kiss it away. 
If I did not love this person, he might go right on making creases, 
they would not trouble me; I am only driving away my trouble. 

How now, has anybody or anything, whom and which I do not 
love, a right to be loved by me? Is my love first, or is his right first? 
Parents, kinsfolk, fatherland, nation, native town, etc., finally fellow- 
men in general (‘brothers, fraternity’), assert that they have a right to 
my love, and lay claim to it without further ceremony. They look 
upon it as their property , and upon me, if I do not respect this, as a 
robber who takes from them what pertains to them and is theirs. I 
should love. If love is a commandment and law, then I must be edu- 
cated into it, cultivated up to it, and, if I trespass against it, punished. 
Hence people will exercise as strong a ‘moral influence’ as possible 
on me to bring me to love. And there is no doubt that one can work 
up and seduce men to love as one can to other passions - if you like, 
to hate. Hate runs through whole generations merely because the 
ancestors of the one belonged to the Guelphs, those of the other to 
the Ghibellines . 257 

But love is not a commandment, but, like each of my feelings, my 
property. Acquire , that is, purchase, my property, and then I will make 
it over to you. A church, a nation, a fatherland, a family, etc., that 
does not know how to acquire my love, I need not love; and I fix the 
purchase price of my love quite at my pleasure. 

Selfish love is far distant from unselfish, mystical, or romantic love. 
One can love everything possible, not merely men, but an ‘object’ in 
general (wine, one’s fatherland, etc.). Love becomes blind and crazy 
by a must [Miissen] taking it out of my power (infatuation), romantic 
by a should [ Sollen ] entering into it, by the ‘objects’ becoming sacred 
for me, or my becoming bound to it by duty, conscience, oath. Now 
the object no longer exists for me, but I for it. 

Love is a possessedness, not as my feeling - as such I rather keep 
it in my possession as property - but through the alienness of the 
object. For religious love consists in the commandment to love in the 
beloved a ‘holy one’, or to adhere to a holy one; for unselfish love 
there are objects absolutely lovable for which my heart is to beat, such 
as fellow-men, or my wedded mate, relatives, etc. Holy Love loves 


The Ego and Its Own 

the holy in the beloved, and therefore exerts itself also to make of 
the beloved more and more a holy one (a ‘man’). 

The beloved is an object that should be loved by me. He is not an 
object of my love on account of, because of, or by, my loving him, 
but is an object of love in and of himself. Not I make him an object 
of love, but he is such to begin with; for it is here irrelevant that he 
has become so by my choice, if so it be (as with a fiancee, a spouse, 
and the like), since even so he has in any case, as the person once 
chosen, obtained a ‘right of his own to my love’, and I, because I 
have loved him, am under obligation to love him forever. He is there- 
fore not an object of my love, but of love in general: an object that 
should be loved. Love appertains to him, is due to him, or is his right, 
while I am under obligation to love him. My love, the toll of love that 
I pay him, is in truth his love, which he only collects from me as toll. 

Every love to which there clings but the smallest speck of obligation 
is an unselfish love, and, so far as this speck reaches, a possessedness. 
He who believes that he owes the object of his love anything loves 
romantically or religiously. 

Family love, as it is usually understood as ‘piety’, is a religious 
love; love of fatherland, preached as ‘patriotism’, likewise. All our 
romantic loves move in the same pattern: everywhere the hypocrisy, 
or rather self-deception, of an ‘unselfish love’, an interest in the 
object for the object’s sake, not for my sake and mine alone. 

Religious or romantic love is distinguished from sensual love by 
the difference of the object indeed, but not by the dependence of 
the relation to it. In the latter regard both are possessedness; but in 
the former the one object is profane, the other sacred. The dominion 
of the object over me is the same in both cases, only that it is one 
time a sensuous one, the other time a spiritual (ghostly) one. My love 
is my own only when it consists altogether in a selfish and egoistic 
interest, and when consequently the object of my love is really my 
object or my property. I owe my property nothing, and have no duty 
to it, as little as I might have a duty to my eye; if nevertheless I guard 
it with the greatest care, I do so on my account. 

Antiquity lacked love as little as do Christian times; the god of 
love is older than the God of Love. But the mystical possessedness 
belongs to the moderns. 

The possessedness of love lies in the alienation of the object, or 
in my powerlessness as against its alienness and superior power. To 


The owner 

the egoist nothing is high enough for him to humble himself before 
it, nothing so independent that he would live for love of it, nothing 
so sacred that he would sacrifice himself to it. The egoist’s love 
rises in selfishness, flows in the bed of selfishness, and empties into 
selfishness again. 

Whether this can still be called love? If you know another word 
for it, go ahead and choose it; then the sweet word love may wither 
with the departed world; for the present I at least find none in our 
Christian language, and hence stick to the old sound and ‘love’ my 
object, my - property. 

Only as one of my feelings do I harbour love; but as a power above 
me, as a divine power, as Feuerbach says, as a passion that I am not 
to cast off, as a religious and moral duty, I - scorn it. As my feeling 
it is mine; as a principle to which I consecrate and ‘vow’ my soul it 
is a dominator and divine , just as hatred as a principle is diabolical; 
one not better than the other. In short, egoistic love, my love, is 
neither holy nor unholy, neither divine nor diabolical. 

A love that is limited by faith is an untrue love. The sole limitation 
that does not contradict the essence of love is the self-limitation 
of love by reason, intelligence. Love that scorns the rigour, the 
law, of intelligence, is theoretically a false love, practically a ruin- 
ous one.* 

So love is in its essence rational'. So thinks Feuerbach; the believer, 
on the contrary, thinks, love is in its essence believing. The one 
inveighs against irrational , the other against unbelieving , love. To both 
it can at most rank as a splendidum vitium . 258 Do not both leave love 
standing, even in the form of unreason and unbelief? They do not 
dare to say, irrational or unbelieving love is nonsense, is not love; as 
little as they are willing to say, irrational or unbelieving tears are not 
tears. But, if even irrational love, etc., must count as love, and if they 
are nevertheless to be unworthy of man, there follows simply this: 
love is not the highest thing, but reason or faith; even the unreason- 
able and the unbelieving can love; but love has value only when it is 
that of a rational or believing person. It is an illusion when Feuerbach 
calls the rationality of love its ‘self-limitation’; the believer might with 
the same right call belief its ‘self-limitation’. Irrational love is neither 
‘false’ nor ‘ruinous’; it does its service as love. 

a Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, p. 394. 


The Ego and Its Own 

Towards the world, especially towards men, I am to assume a par- 
ticular feeling , and ‘meet them with love’, with the feeling of love, 
from the beginning. Certainly, in this there is revealed far more free- 
will and self-determination than when I let myself be stormed, by 
way of the world, by all possible feelings, and remain exposed to the 
most chequered, most accidental impressions. I go to the world rather 
with a preconceived feeling, as if it were a prejudice and a precon- 
ceived opinion; I have prescribed to myself in advance my behaviour 
towards it, and, despite all its temptations, feel and think about it 
only as I have once determined to. Against the dominion of the world 
I secure myself by the principle of love; for, whatever may come, I - 
love. The ugly, for example, makes a repulsive impression on me; but, 
determined to love, I master this impression as I do every antipathy. 

But the feeling to which I have determined and - condemned 
myself from the start is a narrow feeling, because it is a predestined 
one, of which I myself am not able to get clear or to declare myself 
clear. Because preconceived, it is a prejudice. I no longer show myself 
in face of the world, but my love shows itself. The world indeed does 
not rule me, but so much the more inevitably does the spirit of love 
rule this spirit. I have conquered the world, to turn into a slave of 

If I first said, I love the world, I now add likewise: I do not love 
it, for I annihilate it as I annihilate myself; I dissolve it. I do not limit 
myself to one feeling for men, but give free play to all that I am 
capable of. Why should I not dare speak it out in all its glaringness? 
Yes, I utilize the world and men! With this I can keep myself open 
to every impression without being tom away from myself by one of 
them. I can love, love with a full heart, and let the most consuming 
glow of passion burn in my heart, without taking the beloved one for 
anything else than the nourishment of my passion, on which it ever 
refreshes itself anew. All my care for him applies only to the object of 
my love , only to him whom my love requires , only to him, the ‘warmly 
loved’. How indifferent would he be to me without this - my love! I 
feed only my love with him, I utilize him for this only: I enjoy him. 

Let us choose another convenient example. I see how men are 
fretted in dark superstition by a swarm of ghosts. If to the extent of 
my powers I let a bit of daylight fall in on the nocturnal spookery, is 
it perchance because love to you inspires this in me? Do I write out 
of love to men? No, I write because I want to procure for my thoughts 


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an existence in the world; and, even if I foresaw that these thoughts 
would deprive you of your rest and your peace, even if I saw the 
bloodiest wars and the fall of many generations springing up from 
this seed of thought - I would nevertheless scatter it. Do with it what 
you will and can, that is your affair and does not trouble me. You 
will perhaps have only trouble, combat, and death from it, very few 
will draw joy from it. If your weal lay at my heart, I should act as 
the church did in withholding the Bible from the laity, or Christian 
governments, which make it a sacred duty for themselves to ‘protect 
the common people from bad books’. 

But not only not for your sake, not even for truth’s sake either do 
I speak out what I think. No: 

I sing as the bird sings 
That on the bough alights; 

The song that from me springs 
Is pay that well requites . 259 

I sing because - I am a singer. But I use \gebrauche ] you for it 
because I - need [brauche] ears. 

Where the world comes in my way - and it comes in my way 
everywhere - I consume it to quiet the hunger of my egoism. For 
me you are nothing but - my food, even as I too am fed upon and 
turned to use by you. We have only one relation to each other, that 
of usableness , of utility, of use. We owe each other nothing, for what I 
seem to owe you I owe at most to myself. If I show you a cheerful 
air in order to cheer you likewise, then your cheerfulness is of conse- 
quence to me , and my air serves my wish; to a thousand others, whom 
I do not aim to cheer, I do not show it. 

One has to be educated up to that love which founds itself on 
the ‘essence of man’ or, in the ecclesiastical and moral period, lies 
upon us as a ‘commandment’. In what fashion moral influence, the 
chief ingredient of our education, seeks to regulate the intercourse 
of men shall here be looked at with egoistic eyes in one example at 

Those who educate us make it their concern early to break us of 
lying and to inculcate the principle that one must always tell the truth. 
If selfishness were made the basis for this rule, every one would easily 
understand how by lying he fools away that confidence in him which 


The Ego and Its Own 

he hopes to awaken in others, and how correct the maxim proves: 
Nobody believes a liar even when he tells the truth. Yet, at the same 
time, he would also feel that he had to meet with truth only him 
whom he authorized to hear the truth. If a spy walks in disguise 
through the hostile camp, and is asked who he is, the askers are 
assuredly entitled to inquire after his name, but the disguised man 
does not give them the right to learn the truth from him; he tells 
them what he likes, only not the fact. And yet morality demands, 
‘thou shalt not lie!’ By morality those persons are vested with the 
right to expect the truth; but by me they are not vested with that 
right, and I recognize only the right that I impart. In a gathering of 
revolutionaries the police force their way in and ask the orator for 
his name; everybody knows that the police have the right to do so, 
but they do not have it from the revolutionary , since he is their enemy; 
he tells them a false name and - cheats them with a lie. The police 
do not act so foolishly either as to count on their enemies’ love of 
truth; on the contrary, they do not believe without further ceremony, 
but have the questioned individual ‘identified’ if they can. Indeed, 
the state everywhere proceeds incredulously with individuals, because 
in their egoism it recognizes its natural enemy; it invariably demands 
a ‘voucher’, and he who cannot show vouchers falls a prey to its 
investigating inquisition. The state does not believe nor trust the 
individual, and so of itself places itself with him in the convention of 
lying , ; it trusts me only when it has convinced itself of the truth of my 
statement, for which there often remains to it no other means than 
the oath. How clearly, too, this (the oath) proves that the state does 
not count on our credibility and love of truth, but on our interest, our 
selfishness: it relies on our not wanting to fall foul of God by a 

Now, let one imagine a French revolutionary in the year 1788, 
who among friends let fall the now well-known phrase, ‘the world 
will have no rest until the last king is hanged with the guts of the last 
priest’. The king then still had all power, and, when the utterance is 
betrayed by an accident, yet without its being possible to produce 
witnesses, confession is demanded from the accused. Is he to confess 
or not? If he denies, he lies and - remains unpunished; if he con- 
fesses, he is candid and - is beheaded. If truth is more than every- 
thing else to him, all right, let him die. Only a paltry poet could try 
to make a tragedy out of the end of his life; for what interest is there 
in seeing how a man succumbs from cowardice? But, if he had the 


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courage not to be a slave of truth and sincerity, he would ask roughly 
this: Why need the judges know what I have spoken among friends? 
If I had wished them to know, I should have said it to them as I said 
it to my friends. I will not have them know it. They force themselves 
into my confidence without my having called them to it and made 
them my confidants; they want to learn what I will keep secret. Come 
on then, you who wish to break my will by your will, and try your 
arts. You can torture me by the rack, you can threaten me with hell 
and eternal damnation, you can make me so worn down that I swear 
a false oath, but the truth you shall not press out of me, for I will lie 
to you because I have given you no claim and no right to my sincerity. 
Let God, ‘who is truth’, look down ever so threateningly on me, let 
lying come ever so hard to me, I have nevertheless the courage of a 
lie; and, even if I were weary of my life, even if nothing appeared to 
me more welcome than your executioner’s sword, you nevertheless 
should not have the joy of finding in me a slave of truth, whom by 
your priestly arts you make a traitor to his will. When I spoke those 
treasonable words, I would not have had you know anything of them; 
I now retain the same will, and do not let myself be frightened by 
the curse of the lie. 

Sigismund 260 is not a miserable wretch because he broke his 
princely word, but he broke the word because he was a wretch; he 
might have kept his word and would still have been a wretch, a 
priest-ridden man. Luther, driven by a higher power, became 
unfaithful to his monastic vow: he became so for God’s sake . 261 Both 
broke their oath as possessed persons: Sigismund, because he wanted 
to appear as a sincere professor of the divine truth , that is, of the true, 
genuinely Catholic faith; Luther, in order to give testimony for the 
gospel sincerely and with entire truth, with body and soul; both became 
perjured in order to be sincere toward the ‘higher truth’. Only, the 
priests absolved the one, the other absolved himself. What else did 
both observe than what is contained in those apostolic words, ‘Thou 
hast not lied to men, but to God ’? 262 They lied to men, broke their 
oath before the world’s eyes, in order not to lie to God, but to serve 
him. Thus they show us a way to deal with truth before men. For 
God’s glory, and for God’s sake, a - breach of oath, a lie, a prince’s 
word broken! 

How would it be, now, if we changed the thing a little and wrote: 
a perjury and lie for - my sake ? Would not that be to endorse every 
baseness? It seems so, assuredly, only in this it is altogether like the 


The Eg$ and Its Own 

‘for God’s sake’. For was not every baseness committed for God’s 
sake, were not all the scaffolds filled for his sake and all the autos-da- 
fe held for his sake, was not all stupefaction introduced for his sake? 
And do they not today still for God’s sake fetter the mind in tender 
children by religious education? Were not sacred vows broken for his 
sake, and do not missionaries and priests still go around every day 
to bring Jews, heathen, Protestants or Catholics, to treason against 
the faith of their fathers - for his sake? And that should be worse 
with the for my sake ? What then does on my account mean? There 
people immediately think of ‘ filthy lucre'. But he who acts from love 
of filthy lucre does it on his own account indeed, as there is nothing 
anyhow that one does not do for his own sake - among other things, 
everything that is done for God’s glory; yet he, for whom he seeks 
the lucre, is a slave of lucre, not raised above lucre; he is one who 
belongs to lucre, the moneybag, not to himself; he is not his own. 
Must not a man whom the passion of avarice rules follow the com- 
mands of this master ? And, if a weak goodnaturedness once beguiles 
him, does this not appear as simply an exceptional case of precisely 
the same sort as when pious believers are sometimes forsaken by 
their Lord’s guidance and ensnared by the arts of the ‘devil’? So an 
avaricious man is not a self-owned man, but a servant; and he can 
do nothing for his own sake without at the same time doing it for his 
lord’s sake - precisely like the godly man. 

Famous is the breach of oath which Francis I committed against 
Emperor Karl V . 263 Not later, when he carefully weighed his promise, 
but at once, when he swore the oath, King Francis took it back in 
thought as well as by a secret protestation documentarily subscribed 
before his councillors; he uttered a perjury aforethought. Francis did 
not show himself disinclined to buy his release, but the price that 
Karl put on it seemed to him too high and unreasonable. Even though 
Karl behaved himself in a sordid fashion when he sought to extort 
as much as possible, it was yet shabby of Francis to want to purchase 
his freedom for a lower ransom; and his later dealings, among which 
there occurs yet a second breach of his word, prove sufficiently how 
the huckster spirit held him enthralled and made him a shabby swin- 
dler. However, what shall we say to the reproach of perjury against 
him? In the first place, surely, this again: that not the perjury, but 
his sordidness, shamed him; that he did not deserve contempt for 
his perjury, but made himself guilty of perjury because he was a 


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contemptible man. But Francis’ perjury, regarded in itself, demands 
another judgement. One might say Francis did not respond to the 
confidence that Karl put in him in setting him free. But, if Karl had 
really favoured him with confidence, he would have named to him 
the price that he considered the release worth, and would then have 
set him at liberty and expected Francis to pay the ransom-sum. Karl 
harboured no such trust, but only believed in Francis’ impotence and 
credulity, which would not allow him to act against his oath; but 
Francis deceived only this - credulous calculation. When Karl 
believed he was assuring himself of his enemy by an oath, right there 
he was freeing him from every obligation. Karl had given the king 
credit for a piece of stupidity, a narrow conscience, and, without 
confidence in Francis, counted only on Francis’ stupidity, that is, 
conscientiousness: he let him go from the Madrid prison only to hold 
him the more securely in the prison of conscientiousness, the great 
jail built about the mind of man by religion: he sent him back to 
France locked fast in invisible chains, what wonder if Francis sought 
to escape and sawed the chains apart? No man would have taken it 
amiss of him if he had secretly fled from Madrid, for he was in an 
enemy’s power; but every good Christian cries out upon him, that he 
wanted to loose himself from God’s bonds too. (It was only later that 
the Pope absolved him from his oath.) 

It is despicable to deceive a confidence that we voluntarily call 
forth; but it is no shame to egoism to let every one who wants to get 
us into his power by an oath bleed to death by the unsuccessfulness 
of his untrustful craft. If you have wanted to bind me, then learn that 
I know how to burst your bonds. 

The point is whether I give the confider the right to confidence. 
If the pursuer of my friend asks me where he has fled to, I shall 
surely put him on a false trail. Why does he ask precisely me, the 
pursued man’s friend? In order not to be a false, traitorous friend, 
I prefer to be false to the enemy. I might certainly in courageous 
conscientiousness answer: ‘I will not tell’ (so Fichte decides the case); 
by that I should salve my love of truth and do for my friend as much 
as - nothing, for, if I do not mislead the enemy, he may accidentally 
take the right street, and my love of truth would have given up my 
friend as a prey, because it hindered me from the - courage for a 
lie. He who has in the truth an idol, a sacred thing, must humble 
himself before it, must not defy its demands, not resist courageously; 


The Ego and Its Own 

in short, he must renounce the heroism of the lie. For to the lie belongs 
not less courage than to the truth: a courage that the young are most 
apt to be defective in, who would rather confess the truth and mount 
the scaffold for it than confound the enemy’s power by the impudence 
of a lie. To them the truth is ‘sacred’, and the sacred at all times 
demands blind reverence, submission, and self-sacrifice. If you are 
not impudent, not mockers of the sacred, you are tame and its ser- 
vants. Let one but lay a grain of truth in the trap for you, you peck 
at it to a certainty, and the fool is caught. You will not lie? Well, 
then, fall as sacrifices to the truth and become - martyrs! Martyrs! - 
For what? For yourselves, for self-ownership? No, for your goddess - 
the truth. You know only two services , only two kinds of servants: 
servants of the truth and servants of the lie. Then in God’s name 
serve the truth! 

Others, again, serve the truth also; but they serve it ‘in moderation’, 
and make a great distinction between a simple lie and a lie sworn to. 
And yet the whole chapter of the oath coincides with that of the lie, 
since an oath, everybody knows, is only a strongly assured statement. 
You consider yourselves entitled to lie, if only you do not swear to it 
besides? One who is particular about it must judge and condemn a 
lie as sharply as a false oath. But now there has been kept up in 
morality an ancient point of controversy, which is customarily treated 
of under the name of the ‘lie of necessity’. No one who dares plead 
for this can consistently put from him an ‘oath of necessity’. If I 
justify my lie as a lie of necessity, I should not be so pusillanimous 
as to rob the justified lie of the strongest corroboration. Whatever I 
do, why should I not do it entirely and without reservations ( reservatio 
mentalis )? 264 If I once lie, why then not lie completely, with entire 
consciousness and all my might? As a spy I should have to swear to 
each of my false statements at the enemy’s demand; determined to 
lie to him, should I suddenly become cowardly and undecided in face 
of an oath? Then I should have been ruined in advance for a liar and 
spy; for, you see, I should be voluntarily putting into the enemy’s 
hands a means to catch me. - The state too fears the oath of necessity, 
and for this reason does not give the accused a chance to swear. But 
you do not justify the state’s fear; you lie, but do not swear falsely. 
If you show someone a kindness, and he is not to know it, but he 
guesses it and tells you so to your face, you deny; if he insists, you 
say, ‘honestly, no!’ If it came to swearing, then you would refuse; for, 


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from fear of the sacred, you always stop half way. Against the sacred 
you have no will of your own. You lie in - moderation, as you are 
free ‘in moderation’, religious ‘in moderation’ (the clergy are not to 
‘encroach’; over this point the most vapid of controversies is now 
being carried on, on the part of the university against the church), 
monarchically disposed ‘in moderation’ ( you want a monarch limited 
by the constitution, by a fundamental law of the state), everything 
nicely tempered , lukewarm, half God’s, half the devil’s. 

There was a university where the convention was that every word 
of honour that must be given to the university judge was looked upon 
by the students as null and void. For the students saw in the 
demanding of it nothing but a snare, which they could not escape 
otherwise than by taking away all its significance. He who at that 
same university broke his word of honour to one of his fellow students 
was infamous; he who gave it to the university judge derided, in 
union with these very fellow students, the dupe who fancied that a 
word had the same value among friends and among foes. It was less 
a correct theory than the constraint of practice that had there taught 
the students to act so, as, without that means of getting out, they 
would have been pitilessly driven to treachery against their comrades. 
But, as the means approved itself in practice, so it has its theoretical 
probation too. A word of honour, an oath, is one only for him whom 
I entitle to receive it; he who forces me to it obtains only a forced, a 
hostile word, the word of a foe, whom one has no right to trust; for 
the foe does not give us the right. 

Aside from this, the courts of the state do not even recognize the 
inviolability of an oath. For, if I had sworn to one who comes under 
examination that I would not declare anything against him, the court 
would demand my declaration in spite of the fact that an oath binds 
me, and, in case of refusal, would lock me up until I decided to 
become - an oath-breaker. The court ‘absolves me from my oath’; - 
how magnanimous! If any power can absolve me from the oath, I 
myself am surely the very first power that has a claim to it. 

As a curiosity, and to remind us of customary oaths of all sorts, 
let place be given here to that which Emperor Paul 265 commanded 
the captured Poles (Kosciuszko , 266 Potocki , 267 Niemcewicz , 268 and 
others) to take when he released them: 

We not merely swear fidelity and obedience to the emperor, but 

also further promise to pour out our blood for his glory; we 


The Ego and Its Own 

obligate ourselves to discover everything threatening to his 
person or his empire that we ever learn; we declare finally that, 
in whatever part of the earth we may be, a single word of the 
emperor shall suffice to make us leave everything and repair to 
him at once. 

In one domain the principle of love seems to have been long out- 
soared by egoism, and to be still in need only of sure consciousness, 
as it were of victory with a good conscience. This domain is specu- 
lation, in its double manifestation as thinking and as trade. One thinks 
with a will, whatever may come of it; one speculates, however many 
may suffer under our speculative undertakings. But, when it finally 
becomes serious, when even the last remnant of religiousness, 
romance, or ‘humanity’ is to be done away, then the pulse of religious 
conscience beats, and one at least professes humanity. The avaricious 
speculator throws some coppers into the poor-box and ‘does good’, 
the bold thinker consoles himself with the fact that he is working for 
the advancement of the human race and that his devastation ‘turns 
to the good’ of mankind, or, in another case, that he is ‘serving the 
idea’; mankind, the idea, is to him that something of which he must 
say, it is more to me than myself. 

To this day thinking and trading have been done for - God’s sake. 
Those who for six days were trampling down everything by their 
selfish aims sacrificed on the seventh to the Lord; and those who 
destroyed a hundred ‘good causes’ by their reckless thinking still did 
this in the service of another ‘good cause’, and had yet to think of 
another - besides themselves - to whose good their self-indulgence 
should turn; of the people, mankind, and the like. But this other 
thing is a being above them, a higher or supreme being; and therefore 
I say, they are toiling for God’s sake. 

Hence I can also say that the ultimate basis of their actions is - 
love. Not a voluntary love however, not their own, but a tributary love, 
or the higher being’s own (God’s, who himself is love); in short, not 
the egoistic, but the religious; a love that springs from their fancy 
that they must discharge a tribute of love, that they must not be 

If we want to deliver the world from many kinds of unfreedom, we 
want this not on its account but on ours; for, as we are not world- 
liberators by profession and out of ‘love’, we only want to win it away 
from others. We want to make it our own; it is not to be any longer 


The owner 

owned as serf by God (the church) nor by the law (state), but to be 
our own ; therefore we seek to ‘win’ it, to ‘captivate’ it, and, by meeting 
it halfway and ‘devoting’ ourselves to it as to ourselves as soon as it 
belongs to us, to complete and make superfluous the force that it 
turns against us. If the world is ours, it no longer attempts any force 
against us, but only with us. My selfishness has an interest in the 
liberation of the world, that it may become - my property. 

Not isolation or being alone, but society, is man’s original state. 
Our existence begins with the most intimate conjunction, as we are 
already living with our mother before we breathe; when we see the 
light of the world, we at once lie on a human being’s breast again, 
her love cradles us in the lap, guides us in leading reins, and chains 
us to her person with a thousand ties. Society is our state of nature. 
And this is why, the more we learn to feel ourselves, the connection 
that was formerly most intimate becomes ever looser and the dis- 
solution of the original society more unmistakable. To have once 
again for herself the child that once lay under her heart, the mother 
must fetch it from the street and from the midst of its playmates. 
The child prefers the intercourse that it enters into with its peers to 
the society that it has not entered into, but only been born in. 

But the dissolution of society is intercourse [Verkehr] or union [Verein]. 
A society does assuredly arise by union too, but only as a fixed idea 
arises by a thought - namely, by the vanishing of the energy of the 
thought (the thinking itself, this restless taking back all thoughts that 
make themselves fast) from the thought. If a union has crystallized 
into a society, it has ceased to be a coalition [ Vereinigung ]; for coalition 
is an incessant self-uniting; it has become a unitedness, come to a 
standstill, degenerated into a fixity; it is - dead as a union, it is the 
corpse of the union or the coalition, it is - society, community. A 
striking example of this kind is furnished by the party. 

That a society (such as the society of the state) diminishes my 
liberty offends me little. Why, I have to let my liberty be limited by 
all sorts of powers and by every one who is stronger; indeed, by every 
fellow-man; and, were I the autocrat of all the R — , 269 I yet should 
not enjoy absolute liberty. But ownness I will not have taken from me. 
And ownness is precisely what every society has designs on, precisely 
what is to succumb to its power. 

A society which I join does indeed take from me many liberties, 
but in return it affords me other liberties; neither does it matter if I 
myself deprive myself of this and that liberty (such as by any contract). 


The Ego and Its Own 

On the other hand, I want to hold jealously to my ownness. Every 
community has the propensity, stronger or weaker according to the 
fullness of its power, to become an authority to its members and to 
set limits for them: it asks, and must ask, for a ‘subject’s limited 
understanding’; it asks that those who belong to it be subjected to it, 
be its ‘subjects’; it exists only by subjection. In this a certain tolerance 
need by no means be excluded; on the contrary, the society will 
welcome improvements, corrections, and blame, so far as such are 
calculated for its gain: but the blame must be ‘well-meaning’, it may 
not be ‘insolent and disrespectful’, in other words, one must leave 
uninjured, and hold sacred, the substance of the society. The society 
demands that those who belong to it shall not go beyond it and exalt 
themselves, but remain ‘within the bounds of legality’, that is, allow 
themselves only so much as the society and its law allow them. 

There is a difference whether my liberty or my ownness is limited 
by a society. If the former only is the case, it is a coalition, an agree- 
ment, a union; but, if ruin is threatened to ownness, it is a power of 
itself a power above me , a thing unattainable by me, which I can 
indeed admire, adore, reverence, respect, but cannot subdue and 
consume, and that for the reason that I am resigned. It exists by my 
resignation , my self-renunciation , my spiritlessness [Mutlosigkeit], 
called - humility [Demut]. My humility makes its courage [Mut], my 
submissiveness gives it its dominion. 

But in reference to liberty , state and union are subject to no essen- 
tial difference. The latter can just as little come into existence, or 
continue in existence, without liberty’s being limited in all sorts of 
ways, as the state is compatible with unmeasured liberty. Limitation 
of liberty is inevitable everywhere, for one cannot get rid of every- 
thing; one cannot fly like a bird merely because one would like to fly 
so, for one does not get free from his own weight; one cannot live 
under water as long as he likes, like a fish, because one cannot do 
without air and cannot get free from this indispensable necessity; and 
the like. As religion, and most decidedly Christianity, tormented man 
with the demand to realize the unnatural and self-contradictory, so it 
is to be looked upon only as the true logical outcome of that religious 
overstraining and overwroughtness that finally liberty itself absolute 
liberty , was exalted into an ideal, and thus the nonsense of the imposs- 
ible comes glaringly to light. - The union will assuredly offer a greater 
measure of liberty, as well as (and especially because by it one escapes 


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all the coercion peculiar to state and society life) admit of being 
considered as ‘a new liberty’; but nevertheless it will still contain 
enough of unfreedom and involuntariness. For its object is not this - 
liberty (which on the contrary it sacrifices to ownness), but only own- 
ness. Referred to this, the difference between state and union is great 
enough. The former is an enemy and murderer of ownness , the latter 
a son and co-worker of it; the former a spirit that would be adored 
in spirit and in truth, the latter my work, my product ; the state is the 
lord of my spirit, who demands faith and prescribes to me articles of 
faith, the creed of legality; it exerts moral influence, dominates my 
spirit, drives away my ego to put itself in its place as ‘my true ego’ - 
in short, the state is sacred, and as against me, the individual man, it 
is the true man, the spirit, the ghost; but the union is my own creation, 
my creature, not sacred, not a spiritual power above my spirit, as 
little as any association of whatever sort. As I am not willing to be a 
slave of my maxims, but lay them bare to my continual criticism 
without any warrant , and admit no bail at all for their persistence, so 
still less do I obligate myself to the union for my future and pledge 
my soul to it, as is said to be done with the devil, and is really the 
case with the state and all spiritual authority; but I am and remain 
more to myself than state, church, God, and the like; consequently 
infinitely more than the union too. 

That society which communism wants to found seems to stand 
nearest to coalition. For it is to aim at the ‘welfare of all’, oh, yes, of 
all, cries Weitling innumerable times, of all! That does really look as 
if in it no one needed to take a back seat. But what then will this 
welfare be? Have all one and the same welfare, are all equally well 
off with one and the same thing? If that be so, the question is of the 
‘true welfare’. Do we not with this come right to the point where 
religion begins its dominion of violence? Christianity says, look not 
on earthly toys, but seek your true welfare, become - pious Christi- 
ans; being Christians is the true welfare. It is the Irue welfare of ‘all’, 
because it is the welfare of man as such (this spook). Now, the welfare 
of all is surely to be your and my welfare too? But, if you and I do 
not look upon that welfare as our welfare, will care then be taken for 
that in which we feel well? On the contrary, society has decreed a 
welfare as the ‘true welfare’, if this welfare were called enjoyment 
honestly worked for; but if you preferred enjoyable laziness, enjoy- 
ment without work, then society, which cares for the ‘welfare of 


The Ego and Its Own 

all’, would wisely avoid caring for that in which you are well off. 
Communism, in proclaiming the welfare of all, annuls outright the 
well-being of those who hitherto lived on their income from invest- 
ments and apparently felt better in that than in the prospect of Weit- 
ling’s strict hours of labour. Hence the latter asserts that with the 
welfare of thousands the welfare of millions cannot exist, and the 
former must give us their special welfare ‘for the sake of the general 
welfare’. No, let people not be summoned to sacrifice their special 
welfare for the general, for this Christian admonition will not carry 
you through; they will better understand the opposite admonition, 
not to let their own welfare be snatched from them by anybody, but 
to put it on a permanent foundation. Then they are of themselves 
led to the point that they care best for their welfare if they unite with 
others for this purpose, that is, ‘sacrifice a part of their liberty’, yet 
not to the welfare of others, but to their own. An appeal to men’s 
self-sacrificing disposition and self-renouncing love ought at least to 
have lost its seductive plausibility when, after an activity of thousands 
of years, it has left nothing behind but the - misery of today. Why 
then still fruitlessly expect self-sacrifice to bring us better times? Why 
not rather hope for them from usurpation ? Salvation comes no longer 
from the giver, the bestower, the loving one, but from the taker , the 
appropriator (usurper), the owner. Communism, and, consciously, 
egoism- reviling humanism, still count on love. 

If community is once a need of man, and he finds himself furthered 
by it in his aims, then very soon, because it has become his principle, 
it prescribes to him its laws too, the laws of - society. The principle 
of men exalts itself into a sovereign power over them, becomes their 
supreme essence, their God, and, as such - lawgiver. Communism 
gives this principle the strictest effect, and Christianity is the religion 
of society, for, as Feuerbach rightly says, although he does not mean 
it rightly, love is the essence of man; that is, the essence of society 
or of societary (communistic) man. All religion is a cult of society, this 
principle by which societary (cultivated) man is dominated; neither is 
any god an ego’s exclusive god, but always a society’s or community’s, 
be it of the society, ‘family’ (Lar, Penates 270 ) or of a ‘people’ (‘national 
god’) or of ‘all men’ (‘he is a Father of all men’). 

Consequently one has a prospect of extirpating religion down to 
the ground only when one antiquates society and everything that flows 
from this principle. But it is precisely in communism that this prin- 


The owner 

ciple seeks to culminate, as in it everything is to become common for 
the establishment of - ‘equality’. If this ‘equality’ is won, ‘liberty’ too 
is not lacking. But whose liberty? Society’s] Society is then all in all, 
and men are only ‘for each other’. It would be the glory of the - 
love -state [Liebes-Staates]. 

But I would rather be referred to men’s selfishness than to their 
‘kindnesses [Liebesdienste]\ their mercy, pity, etc. The former 
demands reciprocity (as thou to me, so I to thee), does nothing ‘gratis’, 
and may be won and - bought. But with what shall I obtain the 
kindness? It is a matter of chance whether I am at the time having 
to do with a ‘loving’ person. The affectionate one’s service can be 
had only by - begging, be it by my lamentable appearance, by my need 
of help, my misery, my - suffering. What can I offer him for his 
assistance? Nothing! I must accept it as a - present. Love is unpayable , 
or rather, love can assuredly be paid for, but only by counter-love 
(‘one good turn deserves another’). What paltriness and beggarliness 
does it not take to accept gifts year in and year out without service 
in return, as they are regularly collected, for instance, from the poor 
day-labourer? What can the receiver do for him and his donated 
pfennigs 271 in which his wealth consists? The day-labourer would 
really have more enjoyment if the receiver with his laws, his insti- 
tutions, etc., all of which the day-labourer has to pay for though, did 
not exist at all. And yet, with it all, the poor creature loves his master. 

No, community, as the ‘goal’ of history hitherto, is impossible. Let 
us rather renounce every hypocrisy of community, and recognize that, 
if we are equal as men, we are not equal for the very reason that we 
are not men. We are equal only in thoughts , only when ‘we’ are thought , 
not as we really and bodily are. I am ego, and you are ego: but I am 
not this thought-of ego; this ego in which we are all equal is only my 
thought. I am man, and you are man: but ‘man’ is only a thought, a 
generality; neither you and I are speakable, we are unutterable , 
because only thoughts are speakable and consist in speaking. 

Let us therefore not aspire to community [ Gemeinschajt\ , but to 
one-sidedness [ Einseitigkeit ]. Let us not seek the most comprehensive 
commune, ‘human society’, but let us seek in others only means and 
organs which we may use as our property! As we do not see our 
equals in the tree, the beast, so the presupposition that others are 
our equals springs from a hypocrisy. No one is my equal , but I regard 
him, equally with all other beings, as my property. In opposition to 


The Ego and Its Own 

this I am told that I should be a man among ‘fellow-men’ f I should 
‘respect’ the fellow-man in them. For me no one is a person to be 
respected, not even the fellow-man, but solely, like other beings, an 
object in which I take an interest or else do not, an interesting or 
uninteresting object, a usable or unusable person. 

And, if I can use him, I doubtless come to an understanding and 
make myself at one with him, in order, by the agreement, to 
strengthen my power , and by combined force to accomplish more 
than individual force could effect. In this combination I see nothing 
whatever but a multiplication of my force, and I retain it only so long 
as it is my multiplied force. But thus it is a - union. 

Neither a natural ligature nor a spiritual one holds the union 
together, and it is not a natural, not a spiritual league. It is not brought 
about by one blood , not by one faith (spirit). In a natural league - like 
a family, a tribe, a nation, yes, mankind - the individuals have only 
the value of specimens of the same species or genus; in a spiritual 
league - like a municipality, a church - the individual signifies only 
a member of the same spirit; what you are in both cases as a unique 
person must be - suppressed. Only in the union can you assert your- 
self as unique, because the union does not possess you, but you 
possess it or make it of use to you. 

Property is recognized in the union, and only in the union, because 
one no longer holds what is his as a fief from any being. The commu- 
nists are only consistently carrying further what had already been 
long present during religious evolution, and especially in the state; 
namely, propertylessness, the feudal system. 

The state exerts itself to tame the desirous man; in other words, 
it seeks to direct his desire to it alone, and to content that desire with 
what it offers. To satiate the desire for the desirous man’s sake does 
not come into the mind: on the contrary, it stigmatizes as an ‘egoistic 
man’ the man who breathes out unbridled desire, and the ‘egoistic 
man’ is its enemy. He is this to the state because it lacks the capacity 
to agree with him; the egoist is precisely what it cannot ‘comprehend’. 
Since the state (as nothing else is possible) has to do only for itself, 
it does not take care for my needs, but takes care only of how it does 
away with me, makes out of me another ego, a good citizen. It takes 
measures for the ‘improvement of morals’. - And with what does it 

* Bauer, Die Jfudenfrage, p. 60. 


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win individuals for itself? With itself, with what is the state’s, with 
state property. It will be unremittingly active in making all participants 
in its ‘goods’, providing all with the ‘good things of culture’; it pre- 
sents them its education, opens to them the access to its institutions 
of culture, capacitates them to come to property (as, to a fief) in the 
way of industry, etc. For all these fiefs it demands only the just rent 
of continual thanks. But the ‘unthankful’ forget to pay these thanks. - 
Now, neither can ‘society’ do essentially otherwise than the state. 

You bring into a union your whole power, your competence, and 
make yourself count', in a society you are employed , with your working 
power; in the former you live egoistically, in the latter humanly, that 
is, religiously, as a ‘member in the body of this Lord’; to a society 
you owe what you have, and are in duty bound to it, are - possessed 
by ‘social duties’; a union you utilize, and give it up undutifully and 
unfaithfully when you see no way to use it further. If a society is 
more than you, then it is more to you than yourself; a union is only 
your instrument, or the sword with which you sharpen and increase 
your natural force; the union exists for you and through you, the 
society conversely lays claim to you for itself and exists even without 
you; in short, the society is sacred, the union your own', the society 
consumes you, you consume the union. 

Nevertheless people will not be backward with the objection that 
the agreement which has been concluded may again become burden- 
some to us and limit our freedom; they will say, we too would at last 
come to this, that ‘every one must sacrifice a part of his freedom for 
the sake of the generality’. But the sacrifice would not be made for 
the ‘generality’s’ sake a bit, as little as I concluded the agreement for 
the ‘generality’s’ or even for any other man’s sake; rather I came into 
it only for the sake of my own benefit, from selfishness. But, as regards 
the sacrificing, surely I ‘sacrifice’ only that which does not stand in 
my power, that is, I ‘sacrifice’ nothing at all. 

To come back to property, the lord is proprietor. Choose then 
whether you want to be lord, or whether society shall be! On this 
depends whether you are to be an owner [Eigner] or a ragamuffin 
[Lump]\ The egoist is owner, the socialist a ragamuffin. But raga- 
muffinism or propertylessness is the sense of feudalism, of the feudal 
system, which since the last century has only changed its overlord, 
putting ‘man’ in the place of God, and accepting as a fief from man 
what had before been a fief from the grace of God. That the raga- 

The Ego and Its Own 

muffinism of communism is carried out by the humane principle into 
the absolute or most ragamuffinly ragamuffinism has been shown 
above; but at the same time also, how ragamuffinism can only thus 
swing around into ownness. The old feudal system was so thoroughly 
trampled into the ground in the revolution that since then all reac- 
tionary craft has remained fruitless, and will always remain fruitless, 
because the dead is - dead; but the resurrection too had to prove 
itself a truth in Christian history, and has so proved itself: for in 
another world feudalism is risen again with a glorified body, the new 
feudalism under the suzerainty of ‘man’. 

Christianity is not annihilated, but the faithful are right in having 
hitherto trustfully assumed of every combat against it that this could 
serve only for the purgation and confirmation of Christianity; for it 
has really only been glorified, and ‘Christianity exposed ’ 272 is the - 
human Christianity. We are still living entirely in the Christian age, 
and the very ones who feel worst about it are the most zealously 
contributing to ‘complete’ it. The more human, the dearer has feu- 
dalism become to us; for we the less believe that it still is feudalism, 
we take it the more confidently for ownness and think we have found 
what is ‘most absolutely our own’ when we discover ‘the human’. 

Liberalism wants to give me what is mine, but it thinks to procure 
it for me not under the title of mine, but under that of the ‘human’. 
As if it were attainable under this mask! The rights of man, the 
precious work of the revolution, have the meaning that the man in 
me entitles [ berechtige ] me to this and that; I as individual, as this man, 
am not entitled, but man has the right [Recht] and entitles me. Hence 
as man I may well be entitled; but, as I am more than man, namely, 
a special man, it may be refused to this very me , the special one. If 
on the other hand you insist on the value of your gifts, keep up their 
price, do not let yourselves be forced to sell out below price, do not 
let yourselves be talked into the idea that your ware is not worth its 
price, do not make yourself ridicuous by a ‘ridiculous price’, but 
imitate the brave man who says, I will sell my life (property) dear, the 
enemy shall not have it at a cheap bargain ; then you have recognized 
the reverse of communism as the correct thing, and the word then 
is not ‘give up your property!’ but ‘ get the value out of your property!’ 

Over the portal of our time stands not that ‘Know thyself’ of 
Apollo , 273 but a 'Get the value out of thyself [Verwerte Dich]F 


The owner 

Proudhon calls property ‘robbery’ ( le vol). But alien property - and 
he is talking of this alone - is not less existent by renunciation, 
cession, and humility; it is a present. Why so sentimentally call for 
compassion as a poor victim of robbery, when one is just a foolish, 
cowardly giver of presents? Why here again put the fault on others 
as if they were robbing us, while we ourselves do bear the fault in 
leaving the others unrobbed? The poor are to blame for there being 
rich men. 

Universally, no one grows indignant at his , but at alien property. 
They do not in truth attack property, but the alienation of property. 
They want to be able to call more , not less, theirs ; they want to call 
everything theirs. They are fighting, therefore, against alienness 
[. Fremdheit ], or, to form a word similar to property [Eigentum], against 
alienty [Fremdentum], And how do they help themselves therein? 
Instead of transforming the alien into own, they play impartial and 
ask only that all property be left to a third party, such as human 
society. They revindicate the alien not in their own name but in a 
third party’s. Now the ‘egoistic’ colouring is wiped off, and everything 
is so clean and - human! 

Propertylessness or ragamuffinism, this then is the ‘essence of 
Christianity’, as it is essence of all religiousness (godliness, morality, 
humanity), and only announced itself most clearly and, as glad tidings, 
became a gospel capable of development, in the ‘absolute religion’. 
We have before us the most striking development in the present fight 
against property, a fight which is to bring ‘man’ to victory and make 
propertylessness complete: victorious humanity is the victory of - 
Christianity. But the ‘Christianity exposed’ thus is feudalism com- 
pleted, the most all-embracing feudal system, that is, perfect 

Once more then, doubtless, a ‘revolution’ against the feudal 

Revolution and insurrection must not be looked upon as synony- 
mous. The former consists in an overturning of conditions, of the 
established condition or status , the state or society, and is accordingly 
apolitical or social act; the latter has indeed for its unavoidable conse- 
quence a transformation of circumstances, yet does not start from it 
but from men’s discontent with themselves, is not an armed rising, 
but a rising of individuals, a getting up, without regard to the arrange- 


The Ego and Its Own 

ments that spring from it. The revolution aimed at new arrangements ; 
insurrection leads us no longer to let ourselves be arranged, but to 
arrange ourselves, and sets no glittering hopes on ‘institutions’. It is 
not a fight against the established, since, if it prospers, the established 
collapses of itself; it is only a working forth of me out of the estab- 
lished. If I leave the established, it is dead and passes into decay. 
Now, as my object is not the overthrow of an established order but 
my elevation above it, my purpose and deed are not a political or 
social but (as directed toward myself and my ownness alone) an ego- 
istic purpose and deed. 

The revolution commands one to make arrangements , the insurrec- 
tion [Empdrung] demands that he rise or exalt himself [sich auf oder 
emporzurichten ]. What constitution was to be chosen, this question 
busied the revolutionary heads, and the whole political period foams 
with constitutional fights and constitutional questions, as the social 
talents too were uncommonly inventive in societary arrangements 
(phalansteries 274 and the like). The insurgent strives to become 
constitutionless. a 

While, to get greater clearness, I am thinking up a comparison, 
the founding of Christianity comes unexpectedly into my mind. On 
the liberal side it is noted as a bad point in the first Christians that 
they preached obedience to the established heathen civil order, 
enjoined recognition of the heathen authorities, and confidently 
delivered a command, ‘Give to the emperor that which is the 
emperor’s ’. 275 Yet how much disturbance arose at the same time 
against the Roman supremacy, how mutinous did the Jews and even 
the Romans show themselves against their own temporal government! 
In short, how popular was ‘political discontent’! Those Christians 
would hear nothing of it; would not side with the ‘liberal tendencies’. 
The time was politically so agitated that, as is said in the gospels, 
people thought they could not accuse the founder of Christianity 
more successfully than if they arraigned him for ‘political intrigue’, 
and yet the same gospels report that he was precisely the one who 
took least part in these political doings. But why was he not a revo- 
lutionary, not a demagogue, as the Jews would gladly have seen him? 
Why was he not a liberal? Because he expected no salvation from a 

"To secure myself against a criminal charge I superfluously make the express remark 
that I choose the word ‘insurrection’ on account of its etymological sense, and therefore 
am not using it in the limited sense which is disallowed by the penal code. 


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change of conditions, and this whole business was indifferent to him. 
He was not a revolutionary, like Caesar , 276 but an insurgent: not a 
state-overtumer, but one who straightened himself up. That was why 
it was for him only a matter of ‘Be ye wise as serpents’, which 
expresses the same sense as, in the special case, that ‘Give to the 
emperor that which is the emperor’s’; for he was not carrying on any 
liberal or political fight against the established authorities, but wanted 
to walk his own way, untroubled about, and undisturbed by, these 
authorities. Not less indifferent to him than the government were its 
enemies, for neither understood what he wanted, and he had only to 
keep them off from him with the wisdom of the serpent. But, even 
though not a ringleader of popular mutiny, not a demagogue or revol- 
utionary, he (and every one of the ancient Christians) was so^much 
the more an insurgent , who lifted himself above everything that 
seemed sublime to the government and its opponents, and absolved 
himself from everything that they remained bound to, and who at the 
same time cut off the sources of life of the whole heathen world, 
with which the established state must wither away as a matter of 
course; precisely because he put from him the upsetting of the estab- 
lished, he was its deadly enemy and real annihilator; for he walled it 
in, confidently and recklessly carrying up the building of his temple 
over it, without heeding the pains of the immured. 

Now, as it happened to the heathen order of the world, will the 
Christian order fare likewise? A revolution certainly does not bring 
on the end if an insurrection is not consummated first! 

My intercourse with the world, what does it aim at? I want to have 
the enjoyment of it, therefore it must be my property, and therefore 
I want to win it. I do not want the liberty of men, nor their equality; 
I want only my power over them. I want to make them my property, 
material for enjoyment. And, if I do not succeed in that, well, then I 
call even the power over life and death, which church and state 
reserved to themselves - mine. Denounce that officer’s widow who, 
in the flight in Russia, after her leg has been shot away, takes the 
garter from it, strangles her child with it, and then bleeds to death 
alongside the corpse - denounce the memory of the - infanticide. 
Who knows, if this child had remained alive, how much it might have 
‘been of use to the world’! The mother murdered it because she 
wanted to die satisfied and at rest. Perhaps this case still appeals to 
your sentimentality, and you do not know how to read out of it any- 


The Ego and Its Own 

thing further. Be it so; I on my part use it as an example for this, 
that my satisfaction decides about my relation to men, and that I do 
not renounce, from any fit of humility, even the power over life and 

As regards ‘social duties’ in general, another does not give me my 
position toward others, therefore neither God nor humanity pre- 
scribes to me my relation to men, but I give myself this position. This 
is more strikingly said thus: I have no duty to others, as I have a duty 
even to myself (that of self-preservation, and therefore not suicide) 
only so long as I distinguish myself from myself (my immortal soul 
from my earthly existence, etc.). 

I no longer humble myself before any power, and I recognize that 
all powers are only my power, which I have to subject at once when 
they threaten to become a power against or above me; each of them 
must be only one of my means to carry my point, as a hound is our 
power against game, but is killed by us if it should fall upon us 
ourselves. All powers that dominate me I then reduce to serving me. 
The idols exist through me; I need only refrain from creating them 
anew, then they exist no longer: ‘higher powers’ exist only through 
my exalting them and abasing myself. 

Consequently my relation to the world is this: I no longer do any- 
thing for it ‘for God’s sake’. I do nothing ‘for man’s sake’, but what 
I do I do ‘for my sake’. Thus alone does the world satisfy me, while 
it is characteristic of the religious standpoint, in which I include the 
moral and humane also, that from it everything remains a pious wish 
( pium desiderium ), an other-world matter, something unattained. Thus 
the general salvation of men, the moral world of a general love, 
eternal peace, the cessation of egoism, etc. ‘Nothing in this world is 
perfect.’ With this miserable phrase the good part from it, and take 
flight into their closet to God, or into their proud ‘self-consciousness’. 
But we remain in this ‘imperfect’ world, because even so we can use 
it for our - self-enjoyment. 

My intercourse with the world consists in my enjoying it, and so 
consuming it for my self-enjoyment. Intercourse is the enjoyment of the 
world , and belongs to my - self-enjoyment. 

3 My self- enjoyment 

We stand at the boundary of a period. The world hitherto took 
thought for nothing but the gain of life, took care for - life. For 


The owner 

whether all activity is put on the stretch for the life of this world or 
of the other, for the temporal or for the eternal, whether one hankers 
for ‘daily bread’ (‘Give us our daily bread’) or for ‘holy bread’ (‘the 
true bread from heaven’; ‘the bread of God, that comes from heaven 
and gives life to the world’; ‘the bread of life’ 1 *), whether one takes 
care for ‘dear life’ or for ‘life to eternity’ - this does not change the 
object of the strain and care, which in the one case as in the other 
shows itself to be life. Do the modem tendencies announce them- 
selves otherwise? People now want nobody to be embarrassed for the 
most indispensable necessaries of life, but want every one to feel 
secure as to these; and on the other hand they teach that man has 
this life to attend to and the real world to adapt himself to, without 
vain care for another. 

Let us take up the same thing from another side. When one is 
anxious only to live, he easily, in this solicitude, forgets the enjoyment 
of life. If his only concern is for life, and he thinks ‘if I only have my 
dear life’, he does not apply his full strength to using, that is, enjoying, 
life. But how does one use life? In using it up, like the candle, which 
one uses in burning it up. One uses life, and consequently himself 
the living one, in consuming it and himself. Enjoyment of life is using 
life up. 

Now - we are in search of the enjoyment of life! And what did the 
religious world do? It went in search of life. Wherein consists the 
true life, the blessed life, etc.? How is it to be attained? What must 
man do and become in order to become a truly living man? How 
does he fulfil this calling? These and similar questions indicate that 
the askers were still seeking for themselves - namely, themselves in 
the true sense, in the sense of true living. ‘What I am is foam and 
shadow; what I shall be is my true self.’ To chase after this self, to 
produce it, to realize it, constitutes the hard task of mortals, who die 
only to rise again, live only to die, live only to find the true life. 

Not until I am certain of myself, and no longer seeking for myself, 
am I really my property; I have myself, therefore I use and enjoy 
myself. On the other hand, I can never take comfort in myself as 
long as I think that I have still to find my true self and that it must 
come to this, that not I but Christ or some other spiritual, ghostly, 
self (the true man, the essence of man, and the like) lives in me. 

A vast interval separates the two views. In the old I go toward 
myself, in the new I start from myself; in the former I long for myself, 

a John 6. 


The Ego and Its Own 

in the latter I have myself and do with myself as one does with any 
other property - I enjoy myself at my pleasure. I am no longer afraid 
for my life, but ‘squander’ it. 

Henceforth, the question runs, not how one can acquire life, but 
how one can squander, enjoy it; or, not how one is to produce the 
true self in himself, but how one is to dissolve himself, to live himself 

What else should the ideal be but the sought-for ever-distant self? 
One seeks for himself, consequently one does not yet have himself; 
one aspires toward what one ought to be, consequently one is not it. 
One lives in longing and has lived thousands of years in it, in hope . 
Living is quite another thing in - enjoymentl 

Does this perchance apply only to the so-called pious? No, it 
applies to all who belong to the departing period of history, even to 
its men of pleasure. For them too the workdays were followed by a 
Sunday, and the rush of the world by the dream of a better world, 
of a general happiness of humanity; in short, by an ideal. But philos- 
ophers especially are contrasted with the pious. Now, have they been 
thinking of anything else than the ideal, been planning for anything 
else than the absolute self? Longing and hope everywhere, and 
nothing but these. For me, call it romanticism. 

If the enjoyment of life is to triumph over the longing for life or hope 
of life, it must vanquish this in its double significance, which Schiller 
introduces in his ‘ Ideal und das Leben ’; 277 it must crush spiritual and 
secular poverty, exterminate the ideal and - the want of daily bread. 
He who must expend his life to prolong life cannot enjoy it, and he 
who is still seeking for his life does not have it and can as little enjoy 
it: both are poor, but ‘Blessed are the poor ’. 278 

Those who are hungering for the true life have no power over 
their present life, but must apply it for the purpose of thereby gaining 
that true life, and must sacrifice it entirely to this aspiration and this 
task. If in the case of those devotees who hope for a life in the other 
world, and look upon that in this world as merely a preparation for 
it, the tributariness of their earthly existence, which they put solely 
into the service of the hoped-for heavenly existence, is pretty dis- 
tinctly apparent; one would yet go far wrong if one wanted to consider 
the most rationalistic and enlightened as less self-sacrificing. Oh, 
there is to be found in the ‘true life’ a much more comprehensive 
significance than the ‘heavenly’ is competent to express. Now, is not - 


The owner 

to introduce the liberal concept of it at once - the ‘human’ and ‘truly 
human’ life the true one? And is every one already leading this truly 
human life from the start, or must he first raise himself to it with 
hard toil? Does he already have it as his present life, or must he 
struggle for it as his future life, which will become his part only when 
he ‘is no longer tainted with any egoism’? In this view life exists only 
to gain life, and one lives only to make the essence of man alive in 
oneself, one lives for the sake of this essence. One has his life only 
in order to procure by means of it the ‘true’ life cleansed of all 
egoism. Hence one is afraid to make any use he likes of his life: it 
is to serve only for the ‘right use’. 

In short, one has a calling in life , a task in life; one has something 
to realize and produce by his life, a something for which our life 
is only means and implement, a something that is worth more 
than this life, a something to which one owes his life. One has a 
God who asks a living sacrifice. Only the rudeness of human 
sacrifice has been lost with time; human sacrifice itself has 
remained unabated, and criminals hourly fall sacrifices to justice, 
and we ‘poor sinners’ slay our own selves as sacrifices for ‘the 
human essence’, the ‘idea of mankind’, ‘humanity’, and whatever 
the idols or gods are called besides. 

But, because we owe our life to that something, therefore - this is 
the next point - we have no right to take it from us. 

The conservative tendency of Christianity does not permit thinking 
of death otherwise than with the purpose to take its sting from it 
and - live on and preserve oneself nicely. The Christian lets every- 
thing happen and come upon him if he - the arch-Jew - can only 
haggle and smuggle himself into heaven; he must not kill himself, he 
must only - preserve himself and work at the ‘preparation of a future 
abode’. Conservatism or ‘conquest of death’ lies at his heart; ‘the last 
enemy that is abolished is death’." ‘Christ has taken the power from 
death and brought life and imperishable being to light by the gospel.’* 
‘Imperishableness’, stability. 

The moral man wants the good, the right; and, if he takes to the 
means that lead to this goal, really lead to it, then these means are 
not his means, but those of the good, right, etc., itself. These means 
are never immoral, because the good end itself mediates itself 

4 i Corinthians 15:26. * 2 Timothy 1:10. 


The Ego and Its Own 

through them: the end sanctifies the means. They call this maxim 
jesuitical, but it is ‘moral’ through and through. The moral man acts 
in the service of an end or an idea: he make himself the tool of the 
idea of the good, as the pious man counts it his glory to be a tool or 
instrument of God. To await death is what the moral commandment 
postulates as the good; to give it to oneself is immoral and bad: suicide 
finds no excuse before the judgement-seat of morality. If the religious 
man forbids it because ‘you have not given yourself lif e, but God, 
who alone can also take it from you again’ (as if, even taking in this 
conception, God did not take it from me just as much when I kill 
myself as when a tile from the roof, or a hostile bullet, fells me; for 
he would have aroused the resolution of death in me too!), the moral 
man forbids it because I owe my life to the fatherland, etc., ‘because 
I do not know whether I may not yet accomplish good by my life’. 
Of course, for in me good loses a tool, as God does an instrument. 
If I am immoral, the good is served in my reformation ; if I am 
‘ungodly’, God has joy in my penitence. Suicide, therefore, is ungodly 
as well as nefarious. If one whose standpoint is religiousness takes 
his own life, he acts in forgetfulness of God; but, if the suicide’s 
standpoint is morality, he acts in forgetfulness of duty, immorally. 
People worried themselves much with the question whether Emilia 
Galotti’s death can be justified before morality (they take it as if it 
were suicide, which it is too in substance). That she is so infatuated 
with chastity, this moral good, as to yield up even her life for it is 
certainly moral; but, again, that she fears the weakness of her flesh 
is immoral. Such contradictions form the tragic conflict universally 
in the moral drama; and one must think and feel morally to be able 
to take an interest in it. 

What holds good of piety and morality will necessarily apply to 
humanity also, because one owes his life likewise to man, mankind, 
or the species. Only when I am under obligation to no being is the 
maintaining of life - my affair. ‘A leap from this bridge makes me 

But, if we owe the maintaining of our life to that being that we are 
to make alive in ourselves, it is not less our duty not to lead this life 
according to our pleasure, but to shape it in conformity to that being. 
All my feeling, thinking, and willing, all my doing and designing, 
belongs to - him. 


The owner 

What is in conformity to that being is to be inferred from his 
concept; and how differently has this concept been conceived! Or 
how differently has that being been imagined! What demands the 
Supreme Being makes on the Moslem; what different ones the Chris- 
tian, again, thinks he hears from him; how divergent, therefore, must 
the shaping of the lives of the two turn out! Only this do all hold 
fast, that the Supreme Being is to judge [ richten ] our life. 

But the pious who have their judge in God, and in his word a book 
of directions for their life, I everywhere pass by only reminiscently, 
because they belong to a period of development that has been lived 
through, and as petrifactions they may remain in their fixed place 
right along; in our time it is no longer the pious, but the liberals, 
who have the floor, and piety itself cannot keep from reddening its 
pale face with liberal colouring. But the liberals do not adore their 
judge in God, and do not unfold their life by the directions of the 
divine word, but regulate [richten] themselves by man: they want to 
be not ‘divine’ but ‘human’, and to live so. 

Man is the liberal’s supreme being, man the judge of his life, 
humanity his directions , or catechism. God is spirit, but man is the 
‘most perfect spirit’, the final result of the long chase after the spirit 
or of the ‘searching in the depths of the Godhead’, that is, in the 
depths of the spirit. 

Every one of your traits is to be human; you yourself are to be so 
from top to toe, in the inward as in the outward; for humanity is your 

Calling - destiny - task! 

What one can become he does become. A born poet may well be 
hindered by the disfavour of circumstances from standing on the high 
level of his time, and, after the great studies that are indispensable 
for this, producing consummate works of art; but he will make poetry, 
be he a ploughman or so lucky as to live at the court of Weimar . 279 
A born musician will make music, no matter whether on all instru- 
ments or only on an oaten pipe. A born philosophical head can give 
proof of itself as university philosopher or as village philosopher. 
Finally, a born dolt, who, as is very well compatible with this, may at 
the same time be a crafty lad, will (as probably every one who has 
visited schools is in a position to exemplify to himself by many 
instances of fellow- scholars) always remain a blockhead, let him have 


The Ego and Its Own 

been drilled and trained into the chief of a bureau, or let him serve 
that same chief as bootblack. Indeed, the born fatheads indisputably 
form the most numerous class of men. And why, indeed, should not 
the same distinctions show themselves in the human species that are 
unmistakable in every species of beasts? The more gifted and the 
less gifted are to be found everywhere. 

Only a few, however, are so imbecile that one could not get ideas 
into them. Hence, people usually consider all men capable of having 
religion. In a certain degree they may be trained to other ideas too, 
to some musical intelligence, even some philosophy. At this point 
then the priesthood of religion, or morality, of culture, of science, 
etc., takes its start, and the communists, for instance, want to make 
everything accessible to all by their ‘public school’. There is heard a 
common assertion that this ‘great mass’ cannot get along without 
religion; the communists broaden it into the proposition that not only 
the ‘great mass’, but absolutely all, are called to everything. 

Not enough that the great mass has been trained to religion, now 
it is actually to have to occupy itself with ‘everything human’. Training 
is growing ever more general and more comprehensive. 

You poor beings who could live so happily if you might skip accord- 
ing to your mind, you are to dance to the pipe of schoolmasters and 
bear-trainers, in order to perform tricks that you yourselves would 
never use yourselves for. And you do not even kick out of the traces 
at last against being always taken otherwise than you want to give 
yourselves. No, you mechanically recite to yourselves the question 
that is recited to you: ‘What am I called to? What ought I to do?’ You 
need only ask thus, to have yourselves told what you ought to do and 
ordered to do it, to have your calling marked out for you, or else to 
order yourselves and impose it on yourselves according to the spirit’s 
prescription. Then in reference to the will the word is, I will to do 
what I ought. 

A man is ‘called’ to nothing, and has no ‘calling’, no ‘destiny’, as 
little as a plant or a beast has a ‘calling’. The flower does not follow 
the calling to complete itself, but it spends all its forces to enjoy and 
consume the world as well as it can - it sucks in as much of the 
juices of the earth, as much air of the ether, as much light of the 
sun, as it can get and lodge. The bird lives up to no calling, but it 
uses its forces as much as is practicable; it catches beetles and sings 
to its heart’s delight. But the forces of the flower and the bird are 


The owner 

slight in comparison to those of a man, and a man who applies his 
forces will affect the world much more powerfully than flower and 
beast. A calling he has not, but he has forces that manifest themselves 
where they are because their being consists solely in their manifes- 
tation, and are as little able to abide inactive as life, which, if it ‘stood 
still’ only a second, would no longer be life. Now, one might call out 
to the man, ‘use your force’. Yet to this imperative would be given 
the meaning that it was man’s task to use his force. It is not so. 
Rather, each one really uses his force without first looking upon this 
as his calling: at all times every one uses as much force as he pos- 
sesses. One does say of a beaten man that he ought to have exerted 
his force more; but one forgets that, if in the moment of succumbing 
he had had the force to exert his forces (bodily forces), he would not 
have failed to do it: even if it was only the discouragement of a 
minute, this was yet a - destitution of force, a minute long. Forces 
may assuredly be sharpened and redoubled, especially by hostile 
resistance or friendly assistance; but where one misses their appli- 
cation one may be sure of their absence too. One can strike fire out 
of a stone, but without the blow none comes out; in like manner a 
man too needs ‘impact’. 

Now, for this reason that forces always of themselves show them- 
selves operative, the command to use them would be superfluous and 
senseless. To use his forces is not man’s calling and task, but is his 
act , real and extant at all times. Force is only a simpler word for 
manifestation of force. 

Now, as this rose is a true rose to begin with, this nightingale 
always a true nightingale, so I am not for the first time a true man 
when I fulfil my calling, live up to my destiny, but I am a ‘true man’ 
from the start. My first babble is the token of the life of a ‘true man’, 
the struggles of my life are the outpourings of his force, my last 
breath is the last exhalation of the force of the ‘man’. 

The true man does not lie in the future, an object of longing, but 
lies, existent and real, in the present. Whatever and whoever I may 
be, joyous and suffering, a child or an old man, in confidence or 
doubt, in sleep or in waking, I am it, I am the true man. 

But, if I am man, and have really found in myself him whom 
religious humanity designated as the distant goal, then everything 
‘truly human’ is also my own. What was ascribed to the idea of 
humanity belongs to me. That freedom of trade, for example, which 


The Ego tind Its Own 

humanity has yet to attain - and which, like an enchanting dream, 
people remove to humanity’s golden future - I take by anticipation 
as my property, and carry it on for the time in the form of smuggling. 
There may indeed be but few smugglers who have sufficient under- 
standing to thus account to themselves for their doings, but the 
instinct of egoism replaces their consciousness. Above I have shown 
the same thing about freedom of the press. 

Everything is my own, therefore I bring back to myself what wants 
to withdraw from me; but above all I always bring myself back when 
I have slipped away from myself to any willingness to serve. But this 
too is not my calling, but my natural act. 

Enough, there is a mighty difference whether I make myself the 
starting-point or the goal. As the latter I do not have myself, am 
consequently still alien to myself, am my essence , my ‘true essence’, 
and this ‘true essence’, alien to me, will mock me as a spook of a 
thousand different names. Because I am not yet I, another (like God, 
the true man, the truly pious man, the rational man, the freeman, 
etc.) is I, my ego. 

Still far from myself, I separate myself into two halves, of which 
one, the one unattained and to be fulfilled, is the true one. The one, 
the untrue, must be brought as a sacrifice; namely, the unspiritual 
one. The other, the true, is to be the whole man; namely, the spirit. 
Then it is said, ‘the spirit is man’s proper essence’, or, ‘man exists 
as man only spiritually’. Now, there is a greedy rush to catch the 
spirit, as if one would then have bagged himself, and so, in chasing 
after himself, one loses sight of himself, whom he is. 

And, as one stormily pursues his own self, the never- attained, so 
one also despises shrewd people’s rule to take men as they are, and 
prefers to take them as they should be; and, for this reason, hounds 
every one on after his should-be self and ‘endeavours to make all 
into equally entitled, equally respectable, equally moral or rational 
men’. a 

Yes, ‘if men were what they should be, could be, if all men were 
rational, all loved each other as brothers’, then it would be a para- 

“ (Anonymous), Der Kommunismus in der Schweiz. Eine Beleuchtung des Kommissional- 
berichtes des Herm Dr. Bluntschli iiber die Kommunisten in der Schweiz nach den bei 
Weitling vorgefundenen Papieren (Berne, 1843), p. 24. 


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disiacal life. 0 - All right, men are as they should be, can be. What 
should they be? Surely not more than they can be! And what can 
they be? Not more, again, than they - can, than they have the com- 
petence, the force, to be. But this they really are, because what they 
are not, they are incapable of being; for to be capable means - really 
to be. One is not capable for anything that one really is not; one is 
not capable of anything that one does not really do. Could a man 
blinded by cataract see? Oh, yes, if he had his cataract successfully 
removed. But now he cannot see because he does not see. Possibility 
[Moglichkeit] and reality [ Wirklichkeit ] always coincide. One can do 
nothing that one does not, as one does nothing that one cannot. 

The singularity of this assertion vanishes when one reflects that 
the words ‘it is possible that’ almost never contain another meaning 
than ‘I can imagine that’, for instance, it is possible for all men to 
live rationally; that is, I can imagine that all, etc. Now - since my 
thinking cannot, and accordingly does not, cause all men to live 
rationally, but this must still be left to the men themselves - general 
reason is for me only thinkable, a thinkableness, but as such in fact 
a reality that is called a possibility only in reference to what I can not 
bring to pass, namely, the rationality of others. So far as depends on 
you, all men might be rational, for you have nothing against it; indeed, 
so far as your thinking reaches, you perhaps cannot discover any 
hindrance either, and accordingly nothing does stand in the way of 
the thing in your thinking; it is thinkable to you. 

As men are not all rational, though, it is probable that they - cannot 
be so. 

If something which one imagines to be easily possible is not, or 
does not happen, then one may be assured that something stands in 
the way of the thing, and that it is - impossible. Our time has its art, 
science, etc.; the art may be bad in all conscience; but may one say 
that we deserved to have a better, and ‘could’ have it if we only 
would? We have just as much art as we can have. Our art of today 
is the only art possible , and therefore real, at the time. 

Even in the sense to which one might at last still reduce the word 
‘possible’, that it should mean ‘future’, it retains the full force of the 
‘real’. If one says, ‘it is possible that the sun will rise tomorrow’ - 

“ Ibid. p. 63. 

29 1 

The Ego and Its Own 

this means only, ‘for today tomorrow is the real future’; for I suppose 
there is hardly need of the suggestion that a future is real ‘future’ 
only when it has not yet appeared. 

Yet wherefore this dignifying of a word? If the most prolific misun- 
derstanding of thousands of years were not in ambush behind it, if 
this single concept of the little word ‘possible’ were not haunted by 
all the spooks of possessed men, its contemplation should trouble us 
little here. 

The thought, it was just now shown, rules the possessed world. 
Well, then, possibility is nothing but thinkableness, and innumerable 
sacrifices have hitherto been made to hideous thinkableness. It was 
thinkable that men might become rational; thinkable, that they might 
know Christ; thinkable, that they might become moral and enthusi- 
astic for the good; thinkable, that they might all take refuge in the 
church’s lap; thinkable, that they might meditate, speak, and do, 
nothing dangerous to the state; thinkable, that they might be obedient 
subjects: but, because it was thinkable, it was - so ran the inference - 
possible, and further, because it was possible to men (right here lies 
the deceptive point; because it is thinkable to me, it is possible to 
men), therefore they ought to be so, it was their calling ; and finally - 
one is to take men only according to this calling, only as called men, 
not ‘as they are, but as they ought to be ’. 280 

And the further inference? Man is not the individual, but man is 
a thought , an ideal , to which the individual is related not even as the 
child to the man, but as a chalk point to a point thought of, or as a - 
finite creature to the eternal Creator, or, according to modem views, 
as the specimen to the species. Here then comes to light the glorifi- 
cation of ‘humanity’, the ‘eternal, immortal’, for whose glory (in 
maiorem humanitatis gloriam 281 ) the individual must devote himself 
and find his ‘immortal renown’ in having done something for the 
‘spirit of humanity’. 

Thus the thinkers rule in the world as long as the age of priests or 
of schoolmasters lasts, and what they think of is possible, but what 
is possible must be realized. They think an ideal of man, which for the 
time is real only in their thoughts; but they also think the possibility of 
carrying it out, and there is no chance for dispute, the carrying out 
is really - thinkable, it is an - idea. 

But you and I, we may indeed be people of whom a Krummacher 
can think that we might yet become good Christians; if, however, he 


The owner 

wanted to ‘labour with’ us, we should soon make it palpable to him 
that our Christianity is only thinkable , but in other respects impossible ; 
if he grinned on and on at us with his obtrusive thoughts , his ‘good 
belief’, he would have to learn that we do not at all need to become 
what we do not like to become. 

And so it goes on, far beyond the most pious of the pious. ‘If 
all men were rational, if all did right, if all were guided by 
philanthropy, etc.!’ Reason, right, philanthropy, are put before the 
eyes of men as their calling, as the goal of their aspiration. And 
what does being rational mean? Giving oneself a hearing [vemeh- 
men ]? No, reason [ Vemunfi ] is a book full of laws, which are all 
enacted against egoism. 

History hitherto is the history of the intellectual man. After the 
period of sensuality, history proper begins; the period of intellectu- 
ality, spirituality, non-sensuality, supersensuality, nonsensicality. Man 
now begins to want to be and become something. What? Good, beauti- 
ful, true; more precisely, moral, pious, agreeable, etc. He wants to 
make of himself a ‘proper man’, ‘something proper’. Man is his goal, 
his ought, his destiny, calling, task, his - ideal : he is to himself a 
future, other-worldly he. And what makes a ‘proper fellow’ of him? 
Being true, being goocj, being moral, and the like. Now he looks 
askance at every one who does not recognize the same ‘what’, seek 
the same morality, have the same faith; he chases out ‘separatists, 
heretics, sects’, etc. 

No sheep, no dog, exerts itself to become a ‘proper sheep, a proper 
dog’; no beast has its essence appear to it as a task, as a concept that 
it has to realize. It realizes itself in living itself out, in dissolving itself, 
passing away. It does not ask to be or to become anything other than 
it is. 

Do I mean to advise you to be like the beasts? That you ought to 
become beasts is an exhortation which I certainly cannot give you, as 
that would again be a task, an ideal (‘the bee can outdo you in 
industry’). It would be the same, too, as if one wished for the beasts 
that they should become human beings. Your nature is, once for all, 
a human one; you are human natures, human beings. But, just 
because you already are so, you do not still need to become so. Beasts 
too are ‘trained’, and a trained beast executes many unnatural things. 
But a trained dog is no better for itself than a natural one, and has 
no profit from it, even if it is more companionable for us. 


The Ego and Its Own 

Exertions to ‘form’ all men into moral, rational, pious, human, 
‘beings’ (that is, training), have been in vogue from time immemorial. 
They are wrecked against the indomitable quality of I, against own 
nature, against egoism. Those who are trained never attain their ideal, 
and only profess with their mouth the sublime principles, or make a 
profession , a profession of faith. In face of this profession they must 
in life ‘acknowledge themselves sinners altogether’, and they fall short 
of their ideal, are ‘weak men’, and bear with them the consciousness 
of ‘human weakness’. 

It is different if you do not chase after an ideal as your ‘destiny’, 
but dissolve yourself as time dissolves everything. The dissolution is 
not your ‘destiny’, because it is current [Gegenwart]. 

Yet the culture [. Bildung\ , the religiousness, of men has assuredly 
made them free, but only free from one lord, to lead them to another. 
I have learned by religion to tame my appetite, I break the world’s 
resistance by the cunning that is put in my hand by science ; I even 
serve no man; ‘I am no man’s lackey’. But then it comes. You must 
obey God more than man. Just so I am indeed free from irrational 
determination by my impulses, but obedient to the master reason. I 
have gained ‘spiritual freedom’, ‘freedom of the spirit’. But with that 
I have then become subject to that very spirit. The spirit gives me 
orders, reason guides me, they are my leaders and commanders. The 
‘rational’, the ‘servants of the spirit’, rule. But, if / am not flesh, I 
am in truth not spirit either. Freedom of the spirit is servitude of me, 
because I am more than spirit or flesh. 

Without doubt culture has made me powerful. It has given me 
power over all motives , over the impulses of my nature as well as over 
the exactions and violences of the world. I know, and have gained 
the force for it by culture, that I need not let myself be coerced by 
any of my appetites, pleasures, emotions, etc.; I am their - master, in 
like manner I become, through the sciences and arts, the master of 
the refractory world, whom sea and earth obey, and to whom even 
the stars must give an account of themselves. The spirit has made 
me master. - But I have no power over the spirit itself. From religion 
(culture) I do learn the means for the ‘vanquishing of the world’, but 
not how I am to subdue God too and become master of him; for God 
‘is the spirit’. And this same spirit, of which I am unable to become 
master, may have the most manifold shapes; he may be called God 


The owner 

or spirit of a people, state, family, reason, also - liberty, humanity, 

/ receive with thanks what the centuries of culture have acquired 
for me; I am not willing to throw away and give up anything of it: / 
have not lived in vain. The experience that I have power over my 
nature, and need not be the slave of my appetites, shall not be lost 
to me; the experience that I can subdue the world by culture’s means 
is bought at too great a cost for me to be able to forget it. But I want 
still more. 

People ask, what can man do? What can he accomplish? What 
goods procure, and put down the highest of everything as a calling. 
As if everything were possible to me\ 

If one sees somebody going to ruin in a mania, a passion, etc. (as 
in the huckster-spirit, in jealousy), the desire is stirred to deliver him 
out of this possession and to help him to ‘self-conquest’. ‘We want 
to make a man of him!’ That would be very fine if another possession 
were not immediately put in the place of the earlier one. But one 
frees from the love of money him who is a thrall to it, only to deliver 
him over to piety, humanity, or some principle else, and to transfer 
him to a fixed standpoint anew. 

This transfer from a narrow standpoint to a sublime one is declared 
in the words that the sense must not be directed to the perishable, 
but to the imperishable alone: not to the temporal, but to the eternal, 
absolute, divine, purely human, etc. - to the spiritual. 

People very soon discerned that it was not indifferent what one set 
his affections on, or what one occupied himself with; they recognized 
the importance of the object. An object exalted above the individuality 
of things is the essence of things; yes, the essence is alone the thinkable 
in them, it is for the thinking man. Therefore direct no longer your 
sense to the things, but your thoughts to the essence. ‘Blessed are they 
who see not, and yet believe ’; 282 that is, blessed are the thinkers, for 
they have to do with the invisible and believe in it. Yet even an object 
of thought, that constituted an essential point of contention centuries 
long, comes at last to the point of being ‘no longer worth speaking 
of’. This was discerned, but nevertheless people always kept before 
their eyes again an intrinsically valid importance of the object, an 
absolute value of it, as if the doll were not the most important thing 
to the child, the Koran to the Turk. As long as I am not the sole 


The Ego and Its Own 

important thing to myself, it is indifferent of what object I ‘make 
much’, and only my greater or lesser delinquency against it is of value. 
The degree of my attachment and devotion marks the standpoint of 
my liability to service, the degree of my sinning shows the measure 
of my ownness. 

But finally, and in general, one must know how to ‘put everything 
out of his mind’, if only so as to be able to - go to sleep. Nothing 
may occupy us with which we do not occupy ourselves: the victim of 
ambition cannot run away from his ambitious plans, nor the God- 
fearing man from the thought of God; infatuation and possessedness 

To want to realize his essence or live comfortably to his concept 
(which with believers in God signifies as much as to be ‘pious’, and 
with believers in humanity means living ‘humanly’) is what only the 
sensual and sinful man can propose to himself, the man so long as 
he has the anxious choice between happiness of sense and peace of 
soul, so long as he is a ‘poor sinner ’. 283 The Christian is nothing but 
a sensual man who, knowing of the sacred and being conscious that 
he violates it, sees in himself a poor sinner: sensualness, recognized 
as ‘sinfulness’, is Christian consciousness, is the Christian himself. 
And if ‘sin’ and ‘sinfulness’ are now no longer taken into the mouths 
of moderns, but, instead of that, ‘egoism’, ‘self-seeking’, ‘selfishness’, 
and the like, engage them; if the devil has been translated into the 
‘un-man’ or ‘egoistic man’ - is the Christian less present then than 
before? Is not the old discord between good and evil - is not a judge 
over us, man - is not a calling, the calling to make oneself man - 
left? If they no longer name it calling, but ‘task’ or, very likely, ‘duty’, 
the change of name is quite correct, because ‘man’ is not, like God, 
a personal being that can ‘call’; but outside the name the thing 
remains as of old. 

Every one has a relation to objects, and more, every one is differently 
related to them. Let us choose as an example that book to which 
millions of men had a relation for two thousand years, the Bible. 
What is it, what was it, to each? Absolutely, only what he made out of 
it\ For him who makes to himself nothing at all out of it, it is nothing 
at all; for him who uses it as an amulet, it has solely the value, the 
significance, of a means of sorcery; for him who, like children, plays 
with it, it is nothing but a plaything, etc. 


The owner 

Now, Christianity asks that it shall be the same for all: say, the sacred 
book or the ‘sacred Scriptures’. This means as much as that the 
Christian’s view shall also be that of other men, and that no one may 
be otherwise related to that object. And with this the ownness of the 
relation is destroyed, and one mind, one disposition, is fixed as the 
‘ true ’, the ‘only true’ one. In the limitation of the freedom to make 
of the Bible what I will, the freedom of making in general is limited; 
and the coercion of a view or a judgement is put in its place. He who 
should pass the judgement that the Bible was a long error of mankind 
would judge - criminally. 

In fact, the child who tears it to pieces or plays with it, the Inca 
Atahualpa 284 who lays his ear to it and throws it away contemptuously 
when it remains dumb, judges just as correctly about the Bible as 
the priest who praises in it the ‘Word of God’, or the critic who calls 
it a job of men’s hands. For how we toss things about is the affair of 
our choice , our free will: we use them according to our heart's pleasure, 
or, more clearly, we use them just as we can. Why, what do the 
clerics scream about when they see how Hegel and the speculative 
theologians make speculative thoughts out of the contents of the 
Bible? Precisely this, that they deal with it according to their heart’s 
pleasure, or ‘proceed arbitrarily with it’. 

But, because we all show ourselves arbitrary in the handling of 
objects, that is, do with them as we like best, at our liking (the philos- 
opher likes nothing so much as when he can trace out an ‘idea’ in 
everything, as the God-fearing man likes to make God his friend by 
everything, and so, for example, by keeping the Bible sacred), there- 
fore we nowhere meet such grievous arbitrariness, such a frightful 
tendency to violence, such stupid coercion, as in this very domain of 
our - own free will. If we proceed arbitrarily in taking the sacred 
objects thus or so, how is it then that we want to take it ill of the 
cleric -spirits if they take us just as arbitrarily, in their fashion , and 
esteem us worthy of the heretic’s fire or of another punishment, 
perhaps of the - censorship? 

What a man is, he makes out of things; ‘as you look at the world, 
so it looks at you again’. Then the wise advice makes itself heard 
again at once. You must only look at it ‘rightly, unbiasedly’, etc. As 
if the child did not look at the Bible ‘rightly and unbiasedly’ when it 
makes it a plaything. That shrewd precept is given us by Feuerbach. 
One does look at things rightly when one makes of them what one 


The Ego and Its Own 

will (by things objects in general are here understood, such as God, 
our fellow-men, a sweetheart, a book, a beast, etc.). And therefore 
the things and the looking at them are not first, but I am, my will is. 
One will bring thoughts out of the things, will discover reason in the 
world, will have sacredness in it: therefore one shall find them. ‘Seek 
and ye shall find .’ 283 What I will seek, I determine: I want, for 
example, to get edification from the Bible; it is to be found; I want 
to read and test the Bible thoroughly; my outcome will be a thorough 
instruction and criticism - to the extent of my powers. I elect for 
myself what I have a fancy for, and in electing I show myself - 

Connected with this is the discernment that every judgement which 
I pass upon an object is the creature of my will; and that discernment 
again leads me to not losing myself in the creature, the judgement, 
but remaining the creator, the judger, who is ever creating anew. All 
predicates of objects are my statements, my judgements, my - crea- 
tures. If they want to tear themselves loose from me and be something 
for themselves, or actually overawe me, then I have nothing more 
pressing to do than to take them back into their nothing, into me the 
creator. God, Christ, trinity, morality, the good, etc., are such crea- 
tures, of which I must not merely allow myself to say that they are 
truths, but also that they are deceptions. As I once willed and decreed 
their existence, so I want to have license to will their non-existence 
too; I must not let them grow over my head, must not have the 
weakness to let them become something ‘absolute’, whereby they 
would be eternalized and withdrawn from my power and decision. 
With that I should fall a prey to the principle of stability, the proper 
life-principle of religion, which concerns itself with creating sanctuar- 
ies that must not be touched’, ‘eternal truths’ - in short, that which 
shall be ‘sacred’ - and depriving you of what is yours. 

The object makes us into possessed men in its sacred form just as 
in its profane, as a supersensuous object, just as it does as a sensuous 
one. The appetite or mania refers to both, and avarice and longing 
for heaven stand on a level. When the rationalists wanted to win 
people for the sensuous world, Lavater 286 preached the longing for 
the invisible. The one party wanted to call forth emotion, the other 
motion, activity. 

The conception of objects is altogether diverse, even as God, 
Christ, the world, were and are conceived of in the most manifold 


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ways. In this every one is a ‘dissenter’, and after bloody combats so 
much has at last been attained, that opposite views about one and 
the same object are no longer condemned as heresies worthy of death. 
The ‘dissenters’ reconcile themselves to each other. But why should 
I only dissent (think otherwise) about a thing? Why not push the 
thinking otherwise to its last extremity, that of no longer having any 
regard at all for the thing, and therefore thinking its nothingness, 
crushing it? Then the conception itself has an end, because there is 
no longer anything to conceive of. Why am I to say, let us suppose, 
‘God is not Allah, not Brahma, not Jehovah, but - God’; but not, 
‘God is nothing but a deception’? Why do people brand me if I am 
an ‘atheist’? Because they put the creature above the creator (‘they 
honour and serve the creature more than the Creator’)" and require 
a ruling object, that the subject may be submissive. I am to bend beneath 
the absolute, I ought to. 

By the ‘realm of thoughts’ Christianity has completed itself; the 
thought is that inwardness in which all the world’s lights go out, all 
existence becomes existenceless, the inward man (the heart, the head) 
is all in all. This realm of thoughts awaits its deliverance, awaits, like 
the Sphinx, Oedipus ’ 287 keyword to the riddle, that it may enter in 
at last to its death. I am the annihilator of its continuance, for in the 
creator’s realm it no longer forms a realm of its own, not a state in 
the state, but a creature of my creative - thoughtlessness. Only 
together and at the same time with the benumbed thinking world can 
the world of Christians, Christianity, and religion itself, come to its 
downfall; only when thoughts run out are there no more believers. 
To the thinker his thinking is a ‘sublime labour, a sacred activity’, 
and it rests on a firm faith , the faith in truth. At first praying is a 
sacred activity, then this sacred ‘devotion’ passes over into a rational 
and reasoning ‘thinking’, which, however, likewise retains in the 
‘sacred truth’ its unshakeable [unverriickbare] basis of faith, and is 
only a marvellous machine that the spirit of truth winds up for its 
service. Free thinking and free science busy me - for it is not I that 
am free, not / that busy myself, but thinking is free and busies me - 
with heaven and the heavenly or ‘divine’; that is, properly, with the 
world and the worldly, not this world but ‘another’ world; it is only 
the reversing and deranging of the world, a busying with the essence 

a Romans 1:25. 


The Ego and Its Own 

of the world, therefore a madness [Verriicktheit\. The thinker is blind 
to the immediateness of things, and incapable of mastering them: he 
does not eat, does not drink, does not enjoy; for the eater and drinker 
is never the thinker, indeed, the latter forgets eating and drinking, 
his getting on in life, the cares of nourishment, etc., over his thinking; 
he forgets it as the praying man too forgets it. This is why he appears 
to the forceful son of nature as a scatterbrain, a fool - even if he does 
look upon him as holy, just as lunatics appeared so to the ancients. 
Free thinking is lunacy, because it is pure movement of the inwardness , 
of the merely inward man , which guides and regulates the rest of the 
man. The shaman and the speculative philosopher mark the bottom 
and top rounds on the ladder of the inward man, the - Mongol. 
Shaman and philosopher fight with ghosts, demons, spirits, gods. 

Totally different from this free thinking is own thinking, my think- 
ing, a thinking which does not guide me, but is guided, continued, 
or broken off, by me at my pleasure. The distinction of this own 
thinking from free thinking is similar to that of own sensuality, which 
I satisfy at pleasure, from free, unruly sensuality to which I succumb. 

Feuerbach, in the Principles of the Philosophy of the Future , is always 
harping upon being [das Sein ]. In this he too, with all his antagonism 
to Hegel and the absolute philosophy, is stuck fast in abstraction; for 
‘being’ is abstraction, as is even ‘the I’. Only / am not abstraction 
alone: lam all in all, consequently even abstraction or nothing: I am 
all and nothing; I am not a mere thought, but at the same time I am 
full of thoughts, a thought-world. Hegel condemns the own, mine 
[das Meinige] - ‘opinion [Meinung]\ ‘Absolute thinking’ is that which 
forgets that it is my thinking, that / think, and that it exists only 
through me. But I, as I, swallow up again what is mine, am its master; 
it is only my opinion , which I can at any moment change , annihilate, 
take back into myself, and consume. Feuerbach wants to smite Heg- 
el’s ‘absolute thinking’ with unconquered being. But in me being is as 
much conquered as thinking is. It is my being, as the other is my 

With this, of course, Feuerbach does not get further than to the 
proof, trivial in itself, that I require the senses for everything, or that 
I cannot entirely do without these organs. Certainly I cannot think if 
I do not e*ist sensuously. But for thinking as well as for feeling, and 
so for the abstract as well as for the sensuous, I need above all things 
myself this quite particular myself, this unique myself. If I were not 


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this one, for instance, Hegel, I should not look at the world as I do 
look at it, I should not pick out of it that philosophical system which 
just I as Hegel do, etc. I should indeed have senses, as do other 
people too, but I should not utilize them as I do. 

Thus the reproach is brought up against Hegel by Feuerbach 0 that 
he misuses language, understanding by many words something else 
than what natural consciousness takes them for; and yet he too com- 
mits the same fault when he gives the ‘sensuous’ a sense of unusual 
eminence. Thus it is said, ‘the sensuous is not the profane, the desti- 
tute of thought, the obvious, that which is understood of itself’/ But, 
if it is the sacred, the full of thought, the recondite, that which can 
be understood only through mediation - well, then it is no longer 
what people call the sensuous. The sensuous is only that which exists 
for the senses : ; what on the other hand, is enjoyable only to those who 
enjoy with more than the senses, who go beyond sense-enjoyment or 
sense-reception, is at most mediated or introduced by the senses, 
that is, the senses constitute a condition for obtaining it, but it is no 
longer anything sensuous. The sensuous, whatever it may be, when 
taken up into me becomes something non-sensuous, which, however, 
may again have sensuous effects, as by the stirring of my emotions 
and my blood. 

It is well that Feuerbach brings sensuousness [. Sinnlichkeit ] to 
honour, but the only thing he is able to do with it is to clothe the 
materialism of his ‘new philosophy’ with what had hitherto been the 
property of idealism, the ‘absolute philosophy’. As little as people let 
it be talked into them that one can live on the ‘spiritual’ alone without 
bread, so little will they believe his word that as a sensuous being 
one is already everything, and so spiritual, full of thoughts, etc. 

Nothing at all is justified by being. What is thought of is as well as 
what is not thought of; the stone in the street is, and my notion of it 
is too. Both are only in different spaces, the former in airy space, the 
latter in my head, in me; for I am space like the street. 

The professionals, the privileged, brook no freedom of thought, 
no thoughts that do not come from the ‘giver of all good’, be he 
called God, Pope, church, or whatever else. If anybody has such 
illegitimate thoughts, he must whisper them into his confessor’s ear, 

a Ludwig Feuerbach, Principles of the Philosophy of the Future (Zurich and Winterthur, 

1843), PP- 47 ff- 
4 Ibid. p. 69. 


The Ego and Its Own 

and have himself chastised by him until the slave-whip becomes 
unendurable to the free thoughts. In other ways too the professional 
spirit takes care that free thoughts shall not come at all: first and 
foremost, by a wise education. He on whom the principles of morality 
have been duly inculcated never becomes free again from moralizing 
thoughts, and robbery, perjury, overreaching, and the like, remain to 
him fixed ideas against which no freedom of thought protects him. 
He has his thoughts ‘from above’, and gets no further. 

It is different with the holders of concessions or patents. Every 
one must be able to have and form thoughts as he will. If he has the 
patent, or the concession, of a capacity to think, he needs no special 
privilege. But, as ‘all men are rational’, it is free to every one to put 
into his head any thoughts whatever, and, to the extent of the patent 
of his natural endowment, to have a greater or less wealth of thoughts. 
No one hears the admonitions that one ‘is to honour all opinions and 
convictions’, that ‘every conviction is authorized’, that one must be 
‘tolerant to the views of others’, etc. 

But ‘your thoughts are not my thoughts, and your ways are not my 
ways’. Or rather, I mean the reverse: Your thoughts are my thoughts, 
which I dispose of as I will, and which I strike down unmercifully; 
they are my property, which I annihilate as I wish. I do not wait 
for authorization from you first, to decompose and blow away your 
thoughts. It does not matter to me that you call these thoughts yours 
too, they remain mine nevertheless, and how I will proceed with them 
is my affair, not a usurpation. It may please me to leave you in your 
thoughts; then I keep still. Do you believe thoughts fly around free 
like birds, so that every one may get himself some which he may then 
make good against me as his inviolable property? What is flying 
around is all - mine. 

Do you believe you have your thoughts for yourselves and need 
answer to no one for them, or as you do also say, you have to give 
an account of them to God only? No, your great and small thoughts 
belong to me, and I handle them at my pleasure. 

The thought is my own only when I have no misgiving about bring- 
ing it in danger of death every moment, when I do not have to fear 
its loss as a loss for me, a loss of me. The thought is my own only 
when I can indeed subjugate it, but it never can subjugate me, never 
fanaticizes me, makes me the tool of its realization. 

So freedom of thought exists when I can have all possible thoughts; 
but the thoughts become property only by not being able to become 


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masters. In the time of freedom of thought, thoughts (ideas) rule; 
but, if I attain to property in thought, they stand as my creatures. 

If the hierarchy had not so penetrated men to the innermost as to 
take from them all courage to pursue free thoughts, that is, thoughts 
perhaps displeasing to God, one would have to consider freedom of 
thought just as empty a word as, say, a freedom of digestion. 

According to the professionals’ opinion, the thought is given to me; 
according to the freethinkers’, I seek the thought. There the truth is 
already found and extant, only I must - receive it from its giver by 
grace; here the truth is to be sought and is my goal, lying in the 
future, toward which I have to run. 

In both cases the truth (the true thought) lies outside me, and I 
aspire to get it, be it by presentation (grace), be it by earning (merit 
of my own). Therefore, (i) The truth is a privilege; (2) No, the way 
to it is patent to all, and neither the Bible nor the holy fathers nor 
the church nor any one else is in possession of the truth; but one 
can come into possession of it by - speculating. 

Both, one sees, are propertyless in relation to the truth: they have it 
either as a fief (for the ‘holy father’, is not a unique person; as unique 
he is this Sixtus, Clement, but he does not have the truth as Sixtus, 
Clement, but as ‘holy father’, that is, as a spirit) or as an ideal. As a 
fief, it is only for a few (the privileged); as an ideal, for all (the 

Freedom of thought, then, has the meaning that we do indeed all 
walk in the dark and in the paths of error, but every one can on this 
path approach the truth and is accordingly on the right path (‘all roads 
lead to Rome, to the world’s end, etc.’). Hence freedom of thought 
means this much, that the true thought is not my own; for, if it were 
this, how should people want to shut me off from it? 

Thinking has become entirely free, and has laid down a lot of 
truths which / must accommodate myself to. It seeks to complete 
itself into a system and to bring itself to an absolute ‘constitution’. In 
the state it seeks for the idea, say, until it has brought out the ‘rational 
state’, in which I am then obliged to be suited; in man (anthropology), 
until it ‘has found man’. 

The thinker is distinguished from the believer only by believing 
much more than the latter, who on his part thinks of much less as 
signified by his faith (creed). The thinker has a thousand tenets of 
faith where the believer gets along with few; but the former brings 
coherence into his tenets, and takes the coherence in turn for the scale 


The Ego and Its Own 

to estimate their worth by. If one or the other does not fit into his 
budget, he throws it out. 

The thinkers run parallel to the believers in their pronouncements. 
Instead of ‘if it is from God you will not root it out’, the word is ‘if 
it is from the truth, is true, etc.’; instead of ‘give God the glory’ - 
‘give truth the glory’. But it is very much the same to me whether 
God or the truth wins; first and foremost I want to win. 

Aside from this, how is an ‘unlimited freedom’ to be thinkable 
inside of the state or society? The state may well protect one against 
another, but yet it must not let itself be endangered by an unmeasured 
freedom, a so-called unbridledness. Thus in ‘freedom of instruction’ 
the state declares only this - that it is satisfied with every one who 
instructs as the state (or, speaking more comprehensibly, the political 
power) would have it. The point for the competitors is this ‘as the 
state would have it’. If the clergy, for example, does not will as the 
state does, then it itself excludes itself from competition (France). The 
limit that is necessarily drawn in the state for any and all competition 
is called ‘the oversight and superintendence of the state’. In bidding 
freedom of instruction keep within the due bounds, the state at the 
same time fixes the scope of freedom of thought; because, as a rule, 
people do not think further than their teachers have thought. 

Hear Minister Guizot : 288 ‘The great difficulty of today is the guid- 
ing and dominating of the mind. Formerly the church fulfilled this 
mission; now it is not adequate to it. It is from the university that 
this great service must be expected, and the university will not fail to 
perform it. We, the government , have the duty of supporting it therein. 
The charter calls for the freedom of thought and that of conscience.’* 
So, in favour of freedom of thought and conscience, the minister 
demands ‘the guiding and dominating of the mind’. 

Catholicism haled the examinee before the forum of ecclesiasti- 
cism, Protestantism before that of biblical Christianity. It would be 
but little bettered if one haled him before that of reason, as Ruge 
wants to . 4 Whether the church, the Bible, or reason (to which, more- 
over, Luther and Hus 289 already appealed) is the sacred authority 
makes no difference in essentials. 

a Chamber of Peers, 25 April 1844. 

b Arnold Ruge, ‘Bruno Bauer und die Lehrfreiheit’, in Arnold Ruge (ed.), Anekd»ta 
zur neuesten deutschen Philosophic und Publizistik, volume 1 (Zurich and Winterthur, 
1843), p. 120. 


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The ‘question of our time’ does not become soluble even when one 
puts it thus: Is anything general authorized, or only the individual? Is 
the generality (such as state, law, custom, morality, etc.) authorized, 
or individuality? It becomes soluble for the first time when one no 
longer asks after an ‘authorization’ at all, and does not carry on a 
mere fight against ‘privileges’. - A ‘rational’ freedom of teaching, 
which ‘recognizes only the conscience of reason’/ does not bring us 
to the goal; we require an egoistic freedom of teaching rather, a free- 
dom of teaching for all ownness, wherein / become audible and can 
announce myself unchecked. That I make myself ‘ audible [ver- 
nehmbar}\ this alone is ‘reason [Vemunfi]\ be I ever so irrational; in 
my making myself heard, and so hearing myself, others as well as I 
myself enjoy me, and at the same time consume me. 

What would be gained if, as formerly the orthodox I, the loyal I, 
the moral I, etc., was free, now the rational I should become free? 
Would this be the freedom of me? 

If I am free as ‘rational I’, then the rational in me, or reason, is 
free; and this freedom of reason, or freedom of the thought, was the 
ideal of the Christian world from of old. They wanted to make think- 
ing - and, as previously said, faith is also thinking, as thinking is 
faith - free; the thinkers, the believers as well as the rational, were 
to be free; for the rest freedom was impossible. But the freedom of 
thinkers is the ‘freedom of the children of God’, and at the same 
time the most merciless - hierarchy or dominion of the thought; for 
/ succumb to the thought. If thoughts are free, I am their slave; I 
have no power over them, and am dominated by them. But I want 
to have the thought, want to be full of thoughts, but at the same time 
I want to be thoughtless, and, instead of freedom of thought, I pre- 
serve for myself thoughtlessness. 

If the point is to have myself understood and to make communi- 
cations, then assuredly I can make use only of human means, which 
are at my command because I am at the same time man. And really 
I have thoughts only as man; as I, I am at the same time thoughtless. 
He who cannot get rid of a thought is so far only man, is a thrall of 
language , this human institution, this treasury of human thoughts. 
Language or ‘the word’ tyrannizes hardest over us, because it brings 
up against us a whole army of fixed ideas. Just observe yourself in the 

Ibid. p. 127. 


The Ego and Its Own 

act of reflection, right now, and you will find how you make progress 
only by becoming thoughtless and speechless every moment. You are 
not thoughtless and speechless merely in (say) sleep, but even in 
the deepest reflection; yes, precisely then most so. And only by this 
thoughtlessness, this unrecognized ‘freedom of thought’ or freedom 
from the thought, are you your own. Only from it do you arrive at 
putting language to use as your property. 

If thinking is not my thinking, it is merely a spun-out thought; it 
is slave work, or the work of a ‘servant obeying at the word’. For not 
a thought, but I, am the beginning for my thinking, and therefore I 
am its goal too, even as its whole course is only a course of my 
self-enjoyment; for absolute or free thinking, on the other hand, 
thinking itself is the beginning, and it plagues itself with propounding 
this beginning as the extremest ‘abstraction’ (such as being). This 
very abstraction, or this thought, is then spun out further. 

Absolute thinking is the affair of the human spirit, and this is a 
holy spirit. Hence this thinking is an affair of the clerics, who have 
‘a sense for it’, a sense for the ‘highest interests of mankind’, for ‘the 

To the believer, truths are a settled thing, a fact; to the freethinker, 
a thing that is still to be settled. Be absolute thinking ever so unbeliev- 
ing, its incredulity has its limits, and there does remain a belief in 
the truth, in the spirit, in the idea and its final victory: this thinking 
does not sin against the holy spirit. But all thinking that does not sin 
against the holy spirit is belief in spirits or ghosts. 

I can as little renounce thinking as feeling, the spirit’s activity as 
little as the activity of the senses. As feeling is our sense for things, 
so thinking is our sense for essences (thoughts). Essences have their 
existence in everything sensuous, especially in the word. The power 
of words follows that of things: first one is coerced by the rod, after- 
ward by conviction. The might of things overcomes our courage, our 
spirit; against the power of a conviction, and so of the word, even 
the rack and the sword lose their overpoweringness and force. The 
men of conviction are the priestly men, who resist every enticement 
of Satan. 

Christianity took away from the things of this world only their 
irresistibleness, made us independent of them. In like manner I raise 
myself above truths and their power: as I am above the sensual, so I 
am above the truth. Before me truths are as common and as indifferent 


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as things; they do not carry me away, and do not inspire me with 
enthusiasm. There exists not even one truth, not right, not freedom, 
humanity, etc., that has stability before me, and to which I subject 
myself. They are words , nothing but words, as all things are to the 
Christian nothing but ‘vain things’. In words and truths (every word 
is a truth, as Hegel asserts that one cannot tell a lie) there is no 
salvation for me, as little as there is for the Christian in things and 
vanities. As the riches of this world do not make me happy, so neither 
do its truths. It is now no longer Satan, but the spirit, that plays the 
story of the temptation; and he does not seduce by the things of this 
world, but by its thoughts, by the ‘glitter of the idea’. 

Along with worldly goods, all sacred goods too must be put away 
as no longer valuable. 

Truths are phrases, ways of speaking, words (X.OY05); brought into 
connection, or into an articulate series, they form logic, science, 

For thinking and speaking I need truths and words, as I do foods 
for eating; without them I cannot think nor speak. Truths are men’s 
thoughts, set down in words and therefore just as extant as other 
things, although extant only for the mind or for thinking. They are 
human institutions and human creatures, and, even if they are given 
out for divine revelations, there still remains in them the quality of 
alienness for me; yes, as my own creatures they are already alienated 
from me after the act of creation. 

The Christian man is the man with faith in thinking, who believes 
in the supreme dominion of thoughts and wants to bring thoughts, 
so-called ‘principles’, to dominion. Many a one does indeed test the 
thoughts, and chooses none of them for his master without criticism, 
but in this he is like the dog who sniffs at people to smell out ‘his 
master’; he is always aiming at the ruling thought. The Christian may 
reform and revolt an infinite deal, may demolish the ruling concepts 
of centuries; he will always aspire to a new ‘principle’ or new master 
again, always set up a higher or ‘deeper’ truth again, always call forth 
a cult again, always proclaim a spirit called to dominion, lay down a 
law for all. 

If there is even one truth only to which man has to devote his life 
and his powers because he is man, then he is subjected to a rule, 
dominion, law; he is a servingman. It is supposed that man, humanity, 
liberty, etc., are such truths. 


The Ego and Its Own 

On the other hand, one can say thus: Whether you will further 
occupy yourself with thinking depends on you; only know that, if in 
your thinking you would like to make out anything worthy of notice, 
many hard problems are to be solved, without vanquishing which you 
cannot get far. There exists, therefore, no duty and no calling for 
you to meddle with thoughts (ideas, truths); but, if you will do so, 
you will do well to utilize what the forces of others have already 
achieved toward clearing up these difficult subjects. 

Thus, therefore, he who will think does assuredly have a task, 
which he consciously or unconsciously sets for himself in willing that; 
but no one has the task of thinking or of believing. In the former 
case it may be said: You do not go far enough, you have a narrow 
and biased interest, you do not go to the bottom of the thing; in 
short, you do not completely subdue it. But, on the other hand, 
however far you may come at any time, you are still always at the 
end, you have no call to step further, and you can have it as you will 
or as you are able. It stands with this as with any other piece of work, 
which you can give up when the disposition for it wears off. Just so, 
if you can no longer believe a thing, you do not have to force yourself 
into faith or to busy yourself lastingly as if with a sacred truth of the 
faith, as theologians or philosophers do, but you can tranquilly draw 
back your interest from it and let it run. Priestly spirits will indeed 
expound this your lack of interest as ‘laziness, thoughtlessness, obdu- 
racy, self-deception’, and the like. But you just let the rubbish lie, 
notwithstanding. No thing, no so-called ‘highest interest of mankind’, 
no ‘sacred cause’ is worth your serving it, and occupying yourself 
with it for its sake ; you may seek its worth in this alone, whether it is 
worth anything to you for your sake. Become like children, the biblical 
saying admonishes us . 290 But children have no sacred interest and 
know nothing of a ‘good cause’. They know all the more accurately 
what they have a fancy for; and they think over, to the best of their 
powers, how they are to arrive at it. 

Thinking will as little cease as feeling. But the power of thoughts 
and ideas, the dominion of theories and principles, the sovereignty 
of the spirit, in short the - hierarchy , lasts as long as the clerics, that 
is, theologians, philosophers, statesmen, philistines, liberals, school- 
masters, servants, parents, children, married couples, Proudhon, 
George Sand , 291 Bluntschli , 292 and others, have the floor; the hier- 
archy will endure as long as people believe in, think of, or even 


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criticize, principles; for even the most inexorable criticism, which 
undermines all current principles, still does finally believe in the 

Every one criticizes, but the criterion is different. People run after 
the ‘right’ criterion. The right criterion is the first presupposition. 
The critic starts from a proposition, a truth, a belief. This is not a 
creation of the critic, but of the dogmatist; indeed, commonly it is 
actually taken up out of the culture of the time without further cer- 
emony, like ‘liberty’, ‘humanity’, etc. The critic has not ‘discovered 
man’, but this truth has been established as ‘man’ by the dogmatist, 
and the critic (who, besides, may be the same person with him) 
believes in this truth, this article of faith. In this faith, and possessed 
by this faith, he criticizes. 

The secret of criticism is some ‘truth’ or other: this remains its 
energizing mystery. 

But I distinguish between servile [dienstbarer] and own [eigener] criti- 
cism. If I criticize under the presupposition of a supreme being, my 
criticism serves the being and is carried on for its sake: if I am pos- 
sessed by the belief in a ‘free state’, then everything that has a bearing 
on it I criticize from the standpoint of whether it is suitable to this 
state, for I love this state; if I criticize as a pious man, then for me 
everything falls into the classes of divine and diabolical, and before 
my criticism nature consists of traces of God or traces of the devil 
(hence names like Godsgift, Godmount, the Devil’s Pulpit), men of 
believers and unbelievers; if I criticize while believing in man as the 
‘true essence’, then for me everything falls primarily into the classes 
of man and the un-man, etc. 

Criticism has to this day remained a work of love: for at all times 
we exercised it for the love of some being. All servile criticism is a 
product of love, a possessedness, and proceeds according to that New 
Testament precept, ‘test everything and hold fast the good\ a ‘The 
good’ is the touchstone, the criterion. The good, returning under 
a thousand names and forms, remained always the presupposition, 
remained the dogmatic fixed point f or this criticism, remained the - 
fixed idea. 

The critic, in setting to work, impartially presupposes the ‘truth’, 
and looks for the truth in the belief that it is to be found. He wants 
to ascertain the true, and has in it that very ‘good’. 

“ i Thessalonians 5:21. 


The Ego and Its Own 

Presuppose means nothing else than put a thought in front, or 
think something before everything else and think the rest from the 
starting-point of this that has been thought , measure and criticize it 
by this. In other words, this is as much as to say that thinking is to 
begin with something already thought. If thinking began at all, instead 
of being begun, if thinking were a subject, an acting personality of 
its own, as even the plant is such, then indeed there would be no 
abandoning the principle that thinking must begin with itself. But it 
is just the personification of thinking that brings to pass those 
innumerable errors. In the Hegelian system they always talk as if 
thinking or ‘the thinking spirit’ (that is, personified thinking, thinking 
as a ghost) thought and acted; in critical liberalism it is always said 
that ‘criticism’ does this and that, or else that ‘self-consciousness’ 
finds this and that. But, if thinking ranks as the personal actor, think- 
ing itself must be presupposed; if criticism ranks as such, a thought 
must likewise stand in front. Thinking and criticism could be active 
only starting from themselves, would have to be themselves the pre- 
supposition of their activity, as without being they could not be active. 
But thinking, as a thing presupposed, is a fixed thought, a dogma; 
thinking and criticism, therefore, can start only from a dogma , from 
a thought, a fixed idea, a presupposition. 

With this we come back again to what was enunciated above, that 
Christianity consists in the development of a world of thoughts, or 
that it is the proper ‘freedom of thought’, the ‘free thought’, the ‘free 
spirit’. The ‘true’ criticism, which I called ‘servile’, is therefore just 
as much ‘free’ criticism, for it is not my own. 

The case stands otherwise when what is yours is not made into 
something that is of itself, not personified, not made independent as 
a ‘spirit’ to itself. Your thinking has for a presupposition not ‘thinking’, 
but you. But thus you do presuppose yourself after all? Yes, but not 
for myself, but for my thinking. Before my thinking, there is - I. 
From this it follows that my thinking is not preceded by a thought , or 
that my thinking is without a ‘presupposition’. For the presupposition 
which I am for my thinking is not one made by thinking , no one thought 
of, but it is posited thinking itself it is the owner of the thought, and 
proves only that thinking is nothing more than - property , that an 
‘independent’ thinking, a ‘thinking spirit’, does not exist at all. 

This reversal of the usual way of regarding things might so 
resemble an empty playing with abstractions that even those against 


The owner 

whom it is directed would acquiesce in the harmless aspect I give it, 
if practical consequences were not connected with it. 

To bring these into a concise expression, the assertion now made 
is that man is not the measure of all things, but I am this measure . 293 
The servile critic has before his eyes another being, an idea, which 
he means to serve; therefore he only slays the false idols for his God. 
What is done for the love of this being, what else should it be but 
a - work of love? But I, when I criticize, do not even have myself 
before my eyes, but am only doing myself a pleasure, amusing myself 
according to my taste; according to my several needs I chew the thing 
up or only inhale its odour. 

The distinction between the two attitudes will come out still more 
strikingly if one reflects that the servile critic, because love guides 
him, supposes he is serving the thing (cause) itself. 

The truth, or ‘truth in general’, people are bound not to give up, 
but to seek for. What else is it but the etre supreme , the highest 
essence? Even ‘true criticism’ would have to despair if it lost faith in 
the truth. And yet the truth is only a - thought ; but it is not merely 
‘a’ thought, but the thought that is above all thoughts, the irrefragable 
thought; it is the thought itself, which gives the first hallowing to all 
others; it is the consecration of thoughts, the ‘absolute’, the ‘sacred’ 
thought. The truth wears longer than all the gods; for it is only in 
the truth’s service, and for love of it, that people have overthrown 
the gods and at last God himself. ‘The truth’ outlasts the downfall 
of the world of gods, for it is the immortal soul of this transitory 
world of gods, it is Deity itself. 

I will answer Pilate’s question: What is truth? Truth is the free 
thought, the free idea, the free spirit; truth is what is free from you, 
what is not your own, what is not in your power. But truth is also 
the completely unindependent, impersonal, unreal, and incorporeal; 
truth cannot step forward as you do, cannot move, change, develop; 
truth awaits and receives everything from you, and itself is only 
through you; for it exists only - in your head. You concede that the 
truth is a thought, but say that not every thought is a true one, or, 
as you are also likely to express it, not every thought is truly and 
really a thought. And by what do you measure and recognize the 
thought? By your impotence , namely, by your being no longer able to 
make any successful assault on it! When it overpowers you, inspires 
you, and carries you away, then you hold it to be the true one. Its 

The Ego and Its Own 

dominion over you certifies to you its truth; and, when it possesses 
you, and you are possessed by it, then you feel well with it, for then 
you have found your - lord and master. When you were seeking the 
truth, what did your heart then long for? For your master! You did 
not aspire to your might, but to a Mighty One, and wanted to exalt 
a Mighty One (‘Exalt ye the Lord our God!’ 294 ). The truth, my dear 
Pilate, is - the Lord, and all who seek the truth are seeking and 
praising the Lord. Where does the Lord eaist? Where else but in 
your head? He is only spirit, and, wherever you believe you really see 
him, there he is a - ghost; for the Lord is merely something that is 
thought of, and it was only the Christian pains and agony to make 
the invisible visible, the spiritual corporeal, that generated the ghost 
and was the frightful misery of the belief in ghosts. 

As long as you believe in the truth, you do not believe in yourself, 
and you are a - servant , a - religious man. You alone are the truth, or 
rather, you are more than the truth, which is nothing at all before 
you. You too do assuredly ask about the truth, you too do assuredly 
‘criticize’, but you do not ask about a ‘higher truth’ - namely, one that 
should be higher than you - nor criticize according to the criterion of 
such a truth. You address yourself to thoughts and notions, as you 
do to the appearances of things, only for the purpose of making them 
palatable to you, enjoyable to you, and your own: you want only to 
subdue them and become their owner , you want to orient yourself 
and feel at home in them, and you find them true, or see them in 
their true light, when they can no longer slip away from you, no 
longer have any unseized or uncomprehended place, or when they 
are right for you, when they are your property. If afterward they become 
heavier again, if they wriggle themselves out of your power again, then 
that is just their untruth - namely, your impotence. Your impotence is 
their power, your humility their exaltation. Their truth, therefore, is 
you, or is the nothing which you are for them and in which they 
dissolve: their truth is their nothingness. 

Only as the property of me do the spirits, the truths, get to rest; 
and they then for the first time really are, when they have been 
deprived of their sorry existence and made a property of mine, when 
it is no longer said ‘the truth develops itself, rules, asserts itself; 
history (also a concept) wins the victory’, and the like. The truth 
never has won a victory, but was always my means to the victory, like 
the sword (‘the sword of truth’). The truth is dead, a letter, a word, 


The owner 

a material that I can use up. All truth by itself is dead, a corpse; it 
is alive only in the same way as my lungs are alive - namely, in the 
measure of my own vitality. Truths are material, like vegetables and 
weeds; as to whether vegetable or weed, the decision lies in me. 

Objects are to me only material that I use up. Wherever I put my 
hand I grasp a truth, which I trim for myself. The truth is certain to 
me, and I do not need to long after it. To do the truth a service is 
in no case my intent; it is to me only a nourishment for my thinking 
head, as potatoes are for my digesting stomach, or as a friend is for 
my social heart. As long as I have the disposition and force for think- 
ing, every truth serves me only for me to work it up according to my 
powers. As reality or worldliness is ‘vain and a thing of naught’ for 
Christians, so is the truth for me. It erists, exactly as much as the 
things of this world go on easting although the Christian has proved 
their nothingness; but it is vain, because it has its value not in itself 
but in me. Of itself it is valueless. The truth is a - creature. 

As you produce innumerable things by your activity, yes, shape the 
earth’s surface anew and set up works of men everywhere, so too you 
may still ascertain numberless truths by your thinking, and we will 
gladly take delight in them. Nevertheless, as I do not please to hand 
myself over to serve your newly discovered machines mechanically, 
but only help to set them running for my benefit, so too I will only 
use your truths, without letting myself be used for their demands. 

All truths beneath me are to my liking; a truth above me, a truth 
that I should have to direct myself by, I am not acquainted with. For 
me there is no truth, for nothing is more than I! Not even my essence, 
not even the essence of man, is more than I, above me, this ‘drop in 
the bucket’, this ‘insignificant man’! 

You believe that you have done the utmost when you boldly assert 
that, because every time has its own truth, there is no ‘absolute truth’. 
Why, with this you nevertheless still leave to each time its truth, and 
thus you quite genuinely create an ‘absolute truth’, a truth that no 
time lacks, because every time, however its truth may be, still has a 

Is it meant only that people have been thinking in every time, and 
so have had thoughts or truths, and that in the subsequent time these 
were other than they were in the earlier? No, the word is to be that 
every time had its ‘truth of faith’; and in fact none has yet appeared 
in which a ‘higher truth’ has not been recognized, a truth that people 


The Ego and Its Own 

believed they must subject themselves to as ‘highness and majesty’. 
Every truth of a time is its fixed idea, and, if people later found 
another truth, this always happened only because they sought for 
another; they only reformed the folly and put a modem dress on it. 
For they did want - who would dare doubt their justification for 
this? - they wanted to be ‘inspired by an idea’. They wanted to be 
dominated - possessed, by a thoughtl The most modern ruler of this 
kind is ‘our essence’, or ‘man’. 

For all free criticism a thought was the criterion; for own criticism 
I am, I the unspeakable, and so not the merely thought-of; for what 
is merely thought of is always speakable, because word and thought 
coincide. That is true which is mine, untrue that whose own I am; 
true, as in the union; untrue, the state and society. ‘Free and true’ 
criticism takes care for the consistent dominion of a thought, an idea, 
a spirit; ‘own’ criticism, for nothing but my self- enjoyment. But in this 
the latter is in fact - and we will not spare it this ‘ignominy’ - like 
the bestial criticism of instinct. I, like the criticizing beast, am con- 
cerned only for myself not ‘for the cause’. I am the criterion of truth, 
but I am not an idea, but more than idea, that is, unutterable. My 
criticism is not a ‘free’ criticism, not free from me, and not ‘servile’, 
not in the service of an idea, but an own criticism. 

True or human criticism makes out only whether something is 
suitable to man, to the true man; but by own criticism you ascertain 
whether it is suitable to you. 

Free criticism busies itself with ideas , and therefore is always theor- 
etical. However it may rage against ideas, it still does not get clear 
of them. It pitches into the ghosts, but it can do this only as it holds 
them to be ghosts. The ideas it has to do with do not fully disappear; 
the morning breeze of a new day does not scare them away. 

The critic may indeed come to ataraxia before ideas, but he never 
gets rid of them; he will never comprehend that above the bodily man 
there does not exist something higher - namely, liberty, his humanity, 
etc. He always has a ‘calling’ of man still left, ‘humanity’. And this 
idea of humanity remains unrealized, just because it is an ‘idea’ and 
is to remain such. 

If, on the other hand, I grasp the idea as my idea, then it is already 
realized, because I am its reality; its reality consists in the fact that 
I, the bodily, have it. 

They say, the idea of liberty realizes itself in the history of the 
world . 295 The reverse is the case; this idea is real as a man thinks it, 


The owner 

and it is real in the measure in which it is idea, that is, in which I 
think it or have it. It is not the idea of liberty that develops itself, but 
men develop themselves, and, of course, in this self-development 
develop their thinking too. 

In short, the critic is not yet owner , because he still fights with 
ideas as with powerful aliens - as the Christian is not owner of his 
‘bad desires’ so long as he has to combat them; for him who contends 
against vice, vice exists. 

Criticism remains stuck fast in the ‘freedom of knowing’, the free- 
dom of the spirit, and the spirit gains its proper freedom when it fills 
itself with the pure, true idea; this is the freedom of thinking, which 
cannot be without thoughts. 

Criticism smites one idea only by another, such as that of privilege 
by that of manhood, or that of egoism by that of unselfishness. 

In general, the beginning of Christianity comes on the stage again 
in its critical end, ‘egoism’ being combated here as there. I am not 
to make myself (the individual) count, but the idea, the general. 

Why, warfare of the priesthood with egoism , of the spiritually 
minded with the worldly minded, constitutes the substance of all 
Christian history. In the newest criticism this war only becomes all- 
embracing, fanaticism complete. Indeed, neither can it pass away 
until it passes thus, after it has had its life and its rage out. 

Whether what I think and do is Christian, what do I care? Whether 
it is human, liberal, humane, whether unhuman, illiberal, inhumane, 
what do I ask about that? If only it accomplishes what I want, if only 
I satisfy myself in it, then overlay it with predicates as you will; it is 
all alike to me. 

Perhaps I too, in the very next moment, defend myself against my 
former thoughts; I too am likely to change suddenly my mode of 
action; but not on account of its not corresponding to Christianity, 
not on account of its running counter to the eternal rights of man, 
not on account of its affronting the idea of mankind, humanity, and 
humanitarianism, but - because I am no longer all in it, because it 
no longer furnishes me any complete enjoyment, because I doubt the 
earlier thought or no longer please myself in the mode of action just 
now practised. 

As the world as property has become a material with which I under- 
take what I will, so the spirit too as property must sink down into a 
material before which I no longer entertain any sacred dread. Then, 


The Ego and Its Own 

firstly, I shall shudder no more before a thought, let it appear as 
presumptuous and ‘devilish’ as it will, because, if it threatens to 
become too inconvenient and unsatisfactory for me , its end lies in my 
power; but neither shall I recoil from any deed because there dwells 
in it a spirit of godlessness, immorality, wrongfulness, as little as St 
Boniface pleased to desist, through religious scrupulousness, from 
cutting down the sacred oak of the heathens. If the things of the world 
have once become vain, the thoughts of the spirit must also become 

No thought is sacred, for let no thought rank as ‘devotions’; no 
feeling is sacred (no sacred feeling of friendship, mother’s feelings, 
etc.), no belief is sacred. They are all alienable , my alienable property, 
and are annihilated, as they are created, by me. 

The Christian can lose all things or objects, the most loved persons, 
these ‘objects’ of his love, without giving up himself (that is, in the 
Christian sense, his spirit, his soul) as lost. The owner can cast from 
him all the thoughts that were dear to his heart and kindled his zeal, 
and will likewise ‘gain a thousandfold again’, because he, their cre- 
ator, remains. 

Unconsciously {unbewuflt\ and involuntarily [ unwillkiirlich ] we all 
strive toward ownness, and there will hardly be one among us who 
has not given up a sacred feeling, a sacred thought, a sacred belief; 
indeed, we probably meet no one who could not still deliver himself 
from one or another of his sacred thoughts. All our contention against 
convictions starts from the opinion that maybe we are capable of 
driving our opponent out of his entrenchments of thought. But what 
I do unconsciously I half-do, and therefore after every victory over a 
faith I become again the prisoner (possessed) of a faith which then 
takes my whole self anew into its service , and makes me an enthusiast 
for reason after I have ceased to be enthusiastic for the Bible, or an 
enthusiast for the idea of humanity after I have fought long enough 
for that of Christianity. 

Doubtless, as owner of thoughts, I shall cover my property with 
my shield, just as I do not, as owner of things, willingly let everybody 
help himself to them; but at the same time I shall look forward 
smilingly to the outcome of the battle, smilingly lay the shield on the 
corpses of my thoughts and my faith, smilingly triumph when I am 
beaten. That is the very humour of the thing. Every one who has 
‘sublimer feelings’ is able to vent his humour on the pettinesses of 


The owner 

men; but to let it play with all ‘great thoughts, sublime feelings, noble 
inspiration, and sacred faith’ presupposes that I am the owner of all. 

If religion has set up the proposition that we are sinners altogether, 
I set over against it the other: we are perfect altogether! For we are, 
every moment, all that we can be; and we never need be more. Since 
no defect cleaves to us, sin has no meaning either. Show me a sinner 
in the world still, if no one any longer needs to do what suits a 
superior! If I only need do what suits myself, I am no sinner if I do 
not do what suits myself, as I do not injure in myself a ‘holy one’; if, 
on the other hand, I am to be pious, then I must do what suits God; 
if I am to act humanly, I must do what suits the essence of man, the 
idea of mankind, etc. What religion calls the ‘sinner’, humanitarian- 
ism calls the ‘egoist’. But, once more: if I need not do what suits any 
other, is the ‘egoist’, in whom humanitarianism has borne to itself a 
new-fangled devil, anything more than a piece of nonsense? The 
egoist, before whom the humane shudder, is a spook as much as the 
evil is: he exists only as a spectre and phantasm in their brain. If they 
were not unsophisticated^ drif ting back and forth in the antediluvian 
opposition of good and evil, to which they have given the modem 
names of ‘human’ and ‘egoistic’, they would not have freshened up 
the hoary ‘sinner’ into an ‘egoist’ either, and put a new patch on an 
old garment . 296 But they could not do otherwise, for they hold it for 
their task to be ‘men’. They are rid of the Good One; good is left ! 297 

We are perfect altogether, and on the whole earth there is not one 
man who is a sinner! There are crazy people who imagine that they 
are God the Father, God the Son, or the man in the moon, and so 
too the world swarms with fools who seem to themselves to be sin- 
ners; but, as the former are not the man in the moon, so the latter 
are - not sinners. Their sin is imaginary. 

Yet, it is insidiously objected, their craziness or their possessedness 
is at least their sin. Their possessedness is nothing but what they - 
could achieve, the result of their development, just as Luther’s faith 
in the Bible was all that he was - competent to make out. The one 
brings himself into the madhouse with his development, the other 
brings himself therewith into the Pantheon and to the loss of - 

There is no sinner and no sinful egoism! 

Get away from me with your ‘philanthropy’! Creep in, you phil- 
anthropist, into the ‘dens of vice’, linger awhile in the throng of the 


The Ego and Its Own 

great city: will you not everywhere find sin, and sin, and again sin? 
Will you not wail over corrupt humanity, not lament at the monstrous 
egoism? Will you see a rich man without finding him pitiless and 
‘egoistic’? Perhaps you already call yourself an atheist, but you remain 
true to the Christian feeling that a camel will sooner go through a 
needle’s eye 298 than a rich man not be an ‘un-man’. How many do 
you see anyhow that you would not throw into the ‘egoistic mass’? 
What, therefore, has your philanthropy (love of man) found? Nothing 
but unlovable men! And where do they all come from? From you, 
from your philanthropy! You brought the sinner with you in your 
head, therefore you found him, therefore you inserted him every- 
where. Do not call men sinners, and they are not: you alone are the 
creator of sinners; you, who fancy that you love men, are the very 
one to throw them into the mire of sin, the very one to divide them 
into vicious and virtuous, into men and un-men, the very one to 
befoul them with the spittle of your possessedness; for you love not 
men , but man. But I tell you, you have never seen a sinner, you have 
only - dreamed of him. 

Self-enjoyment is embittered to me by my thinking I must serve 
another, by my fancying myself under obligation to him, by my hold- 
ing myself called to ‘self-sacrifice’, ‘resignation’, ‘enthusiasm’. All 
right: if I no longer serve any idea, any ‘higher essence’, then it is 
clear of itself that I no longer serve any man either, but - under all 
circumstances - myself. But thus I am not merely in fact or in being, 
but also for my consciousness, the - unique. 

There pertains to you more than the divine, the human, etc.; yours 
pertain to you. 

Look upon yourself as more powerful than they give you out for, 
and you have more power; look upon yourself as more, and you have 

You are then not merely called to everything divine, entitled to every- 
thing human, but owner [. Eigner ] of what is yours [Deinigen], that is, 
of all that you possess the force to make your own [eigen]; you are 
appropriate [geeignet] and capacitated for everything that is yours. 

People have always supposed that they must give me a destiny lying 
outside myself, so that at last they demanded that I should lay claim 
to the human because I am - man. This is the Christian magic circle. 
Fichte’s ego too is the same essence outside me, for every one is ego; 
and, if only this ego has rights, then it is ‘the ego’, it is not I. But I 


The owner 

am not an ego along with other egos, but the sole ego: I am unique. 
Hence my wants too are unique, and my deeds; in short, everything 
about me is unique. And it is only as this unique I that I take 
everything for my own, as I set myself to work, and develop myself, 
only as this. I do not develop men, nor as man, but, as I, I develop - 

This is the meaning of the - unique one [ Einzigen ]. 



The unique one 

Pre-Christian and Christian times pursue opposite goals; the former 
wants to idealize the real, the latter to realize the ideal; the former 
seeks the ‘holy spirit’, the latter the ‘glorified body’. Hence the former 
closes with insensitiveness to the real, with ‘contempt for the world’; 
the latter will end with the casting off of the ideal, with ‘contempt 
for the spirit’. 

The opposition of the real and the ideal is an irreconcilable one, 
and the one can never become the other: if the ideal became the 
real, it would no longer be the ideal; and, if the real became the 
ideal, the ideal alone would be, but not at all the real. The opposition 
of the two is not to be vanquished otherwise than if some one annihil- 
ates both. Only in this ‘ some one\ the third party, does the opposition 
find its end; otherwise idea and reality will ever fail to coincide. The 
idea cannot be so realized as to remain idea, but is realized only 
when it dies as idea; and it is the same with the real. 

But now we have before us in the ancients adherents of the idea, 
in the moderns adherents of reality. Neither can get clear of the 
opposition, and both pine only, the one party for the spirit, and, when 
this craving of the ancient world seemed to be satisfied and this spirit 
to have come, the others immediately for the secularization of this 
spirit again, which must forever remain a ‘pious wish’. 

The pious wish of the ancients was sanctity , the pious wish of the 
moderns is corporeity. But, as antiquity had to go down if its longing 
was to be satisfied (f or it consisted only in the longing), so too corpor- 
eity can never be attained within the ring of Christianness. As the 
trait of sanctification or purification goes through the old world (the 


The unique one 

washings, etc.), so that of incorporation goes through the Christian 
world: God plunges down into this world, becomes flesh, and wants 
to redeem it, that is, fill it with himself; but, since he is ‘the idea’ or 
‘the spirit’, people (Hegel, for example) in the end introduce the idea 
into everything, into the world, and prove ‘that the idea is, that reason 
is, in everything’. ‘Man’ corresponds in the culture of today to what 
the heathen Stoics set up as ‘the wise man’; the latter, like the former, 
a - fleshless being. The unreal ‘wise man’, this bodiless ‘holy one’ of 
the Stoics, became a real person, a bodily ‘Holy One’, in God made 
flesh ; the unreal ‘man’, the bodiless ego, will become real in the 
corporeal ego , in me. 

There winds its way through Christianity the question about the 
‘existence of God’, which, taken up ever and ever again, gives testi- 
mony that the craving for existence, corporeity, personality, reality, 
was incessantly busying the heart because it never found a satisfying 
solution. At last the question about the existence of God fell, but 
only to rise up again in the proposition that the ‘divine’ had existence 
(Feuerbach). But this too has no existence, and neither will the last 
refuge, that the ‘purely human’ is realizable, afford shelter much 
longer. No idea has existence, for none is capable of corporeity. The 
scholastic contention of realism and nominalism has the same con- 
tent; in short, this spins itself out through all Christian history, and 
cannot end in it. 

The Christian world is working at realizing ideas in the individual 
relations of lif e, the institutions and laws of the church and the state; 
but they make resistance, and always keep back something unem- 
bodied (unrealizable). Nevertheless this embodiment is restlessly 
rushed after, no matter in what degree corporeity constantly fails to 

For realities matter little to the realizer, but it matters everything 
that they be realizations of the idea. Hence he is ever examining 
anew whether the realized does in truth have the idea, its kernel, 
dwelling in it; and in testing the real he at the same time tests the 
idea, whether it is realizable as he thinks it, or is only thought by him 
incorrectly, and for that reason unfeasibly. 

The Christian is no longer to care for family, state, etc., as exist- 
ences-, Christians are not to sacrifice themselves for these ‘divine 
things’ like the ancients, but these are only to be utilized to make 
the spirit alive in them. The real family has become indifferent, and 


The Ego and Its Own 

there is to arise out of it an ideal one which would then be the ‘truly 
real’, a sacred family, blessed by God, or, according to the liberal 
way of thinking, a ‘rational’ family. With the ancients, family, state, 
fatherland, is divine as a thing extant ; with the moderns it is still 
awaiting divinity, as extant it is only sinful, earthly, and has still to 
be ‘redeemed’, that is, to become truly real. This has the following 
meaning: The family, etc., is not the extant and real, but the divine, 
the idea, is extant and real; whether this family will make itself real 
by taking up the truly real, the idea, is still unsettled. It is not the 
individual’s task to serve the family as the divine, but, inversely, to 
serve the divine and to bring to it the still undivine family, to subject 
everything in the idea’s name, to set up the idea’s banner everywhere, 
to bring the idea to real efficacy. 

But, since the concern of Christianity, as of antiquity, is for the 
divine , they always come out at this again on their opposite paths. At 
the end of heathenism the divine becomes the extramundane, at the 
end of Christianity the intramundane. Antiquity does not succeed in 
putting it entirely outside the world, and, when Christianity 
accomplishes this task, the divine instantly longs to get back into the 
world and wants to ‘redeem’ the world. But within Christianity it 
does not and cannot come to this, that the divine as intramundane 
should really become the mundane itself, there is enough left that 
does and must maintain itself unpenetrated as the ‘bad’, irrational, 
accidental, ‘egoistic’, the ‘mundane’ in the bad sense. Christianity 
begins with God’s becoming man, and carries on its work of conver- 
sion and redemption through all time in order to prepare for God a 
reception in all men and in everything human, and to penetrate every- 
thing with the spirit: it sticks to preparing a place for the ‘spirit’. 

When the accent was at last laid on man or mankind, it was again 
the idea that they ‘ pronounced eternal ’. ‘Man does not die!’ They 
thought they had now found the reality of the idea: Man is the I of 
history, of the world’s history; it is he, this ideal , that really develops, 
realizes , himself. He is the really real and corporeal one, for history 
is his body, in which individuals are only members. Christ is the I of 
the world’s history, even of the pre-Christian; in modem apprehen- 
sion it is man, the figure of Christ has developed into the figure of 
mam man as such, man absolutely, is the ‘central point’ of history. 
In ‘man’ the imaginary beginning returns again; for ‘man’ is as 

3 22 

The unique one 

imaginary as Christ is. ‘Man’, as the I of the world’s history, closes 
the cycle of Christian apprehensions. 

Christianity’s magic circle would be broken if the strained relation 
between existence and calling, that is, between me as I am and me 
as I should be, ceased; it persists only as the longing of the idea for 
its bodiliness, and vanishes with the relaxing separation of the two: 
only when the idea remains - idea, as man or mankind is indeed a 
bodiless idea, is Christianity still extant. The corporeal idea, the cor- 
poreal or ‘completed’ spirit, floats before the Christian as ‘the end 
of the days’ or as the ‘goal of history’; it is not current [Gegenwart] 
to him. 

The individual can only have a part in the founding of the Kingdom 
of God, or, according to the modem notion of the same thing, in the 
development and history of humanity; and only so far as he has a 
part in it does a Christian, or according to the modem expression 
human, value pertain to him; for the rest he is dust and a worm-bag. 

That the individual is of himself a world’s history, and possesses 
his property in the rest of the world’s history, goes beyond what is 
Christian. To the Christian the world’s history is the higher thing, 
because it is the history of Christ or ‘man’; to the egoist only his 
history has value, because he wants to develop only himself not the 
mankind-idea, not God’s plan, not the purposes of Providence, not 
liberty, and the like. He does not look upon himself as a tool of the 
idea or a vessel of God, he recognizes no calling, he does not fancy 
that he exists for the further development of mankind and that he 
must contribute his mite to it, but he lives himself out, careless of 
how well or ill humanity may fare thereby. If it were not open to 
confusion with the idea that a state of nature is to be praised, one 
might recall Lenau’s Drei Zigeuner . 2 " What, am I in the world to 
realize ideas? To do my part by my citizenship, say, toward the realiz- 
ation of the idea ‘state’, or by marriage, as husband and father, to 
bring the idea of the family into an existence? What does such a 
calling concern me! I live after a calling as little as the flower grows 
and gives fragrance after a calling. 

The ideal ‘man’ is realized when the Christian apprehension turns 
about and becomes the proposition, ‘I, this unique one, am man.’ 
The conceptual question, ‘what is man?’ - has then changed into the 
personal question, ‘who is man?’ With ‘what’ the concept was sought 


The Ego and Its Own 

for, in order to realize it; with ‘who’ it is no longer any question at 
all, but the answer is personally on hand at once in the asker: the 
question answers itself. 

They say of God, ‘names name thee not’. That holds good of me: 
no concept expresses me, nothing that is designated as my essence 
exhausts me; they are only names. Likewise they say of God that he 
is perfect and has no calling to strive after perfection. That too holds 
good of me alone. 

I am owner of my might, and I am so when I know myself as unique. 
In the unique one the owner himself returns into his creative nothing, 
of which he is born. Every higher essence above me, be it God, be 
it man, weakens the feeling of my uniqueness, and pales only before 
the sun of this consciousness. If I concern myself for myself , 300 the 
unique one, then my concern rests on its transitory, mortal creator, 
who consumes himself, and I may say: 

All things are nothing to me . 301 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

i. Marie Dahnhardt (1818-1902): Stirner’s second wife. In the dedi- 
cation to the first edition of The Ego and Its Own her name appears 
in a larger typeface than Stirner’s own. An associate of ‘the free’, 
Dahnhardt was known mainly for her considerable inheritance and 
for her willingness to accompany certain members of the group on 
their more bohemian adventures. Her marriage to Stirner in his 
flat, on 21 October 1843, provided the occasion of probably the 
best-known Stirner anecdote - the pastor arriving to find the groom 
"playing cards with Bruno Bauer and Ludwig Buhl, the bride finally 
appearing late and casually dressed, and no one having remembered 
to buy wedding rings (two brass hoops from Bauer’s purse having 
to function as substitutes). Dahnhardt left Stirner towards the end 
of 1 846, although not before he had frittered away the bulk of her 
inheritance. Their only contact thereafter was with regard to their 
divorce settlement which was concluded in 1850. Dahnhardt emi- 
grated to Australia, but returned to England, where John Henry 
Mackay traced her to a small Roman Catholic community. She 
refused to see Mackay in person but in a letter ref erred to her ‘very 
sly’ first husband, a man whom she ‘had neither respected . . . nor 
loved’, and with whom she had ‘more a cohabitation than a mar- 
riage’. John Henry Mackay (1864-1933) is responsible for so much 
of our knowledge of Stirner that he merits a mention here. 
Although born in Greenock in Scotland, Mackay grew up and was 
educated in Germany, studying at the Universities of Kiel, Leipzig, 
and Berlin. A member of the avant-garde group of Berlin writers 
Der Verein Durch, Mackay’s novels include Die Anarchisten (1881) 
and a sequel Der Freiheitssucher ( 1920); he also published collections 
of short stories, and a volume of poetry, entided Sturm (1887). 

Biographical and other notes on the text 

Mackay had The Ego and Its Own reissued, and unearthed, collated, 
and published a collection of Stimer’s lesser writings. He wrote 
what remains the standard biography of Stimer, and had a mem- 
orial slab placed on Stimer’s grave and a plaque hung on his last 
residence in Berlin. The material that Mackay had collected was 
sold by the Stimer Archive in 1925 to the Marx-Engels Institute 
in Moscow. 

2. ‘Ich hab’ Mein Sach’ auf Nichts gestellt’, literally, ‘I have set my 
affair on nothing’, is the opening line of Goethe’s poem Vanitas! 
Vanitatum vanitas!, which Stimer used as the opening and closing 
sentence of The Ego and Its Own, and occasionally alludes to in 

3. That is, ‘die Sache des Geistes’. Geist has a wide range of possible 
meanings, in both standard and Hegelian usages, most closely 
related to ‘spirit’. At one point in the text, Stimer suggests that he 
uses Geist as synonymous with ‘thought, conceptions, ideas, faith 
[Gedanke, Vorstellung, Ideen, Glaubeg (p. 59), and depending on con- 
text, in this translation ‘spirit’, ‘intellect’, and ‘mind’, are typically 
used to translate it. 

4. ‘Der Sultan hat seine Sache auf Nichts, als auf sich gestellt’, allud- 
ing to the opening and closing sentences of The Ego and Its Own 
(see note 2). 

5. Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-72): German philosopher and the lead- 
ing figure of the Hegelian left in the early 1840s. The son of a 
distinguished liberal legal scholar, Feuerbach studied under Hegel 
at the University of Berlin. Unable to secure a permanent university 
position (largely as a result of his radical views), he lived as an 
independent writer, supported by his own writings and his wife’s 
inheritance. Feuerbach’s critique of theology and his account of 
the true nature of religion was outlined in his most famous work, 
The Essence of Christianity, first published in 1841 (see note 37). 
There followed a series of shorter, more fragmentary, works elabor- 
ating his positive views and developing his radical critique of con- 
temporary philosophy (see note 61). From the mid- 1840s his 
influence declined, al though he continued to write, either elaborat- 
ing his critique of religion in largely predictable directions or else 
developing his ‘sensationalism’ into a more ‘materialist’ account of 
the unity of the human and natural worlds. He was briefly taken 
up by the revolutionary events of 1848, but spent his last years 
in relative isolation, suffering from financial hardship and serious 

6. Bruno Bauer (1809-82): German philosopher and left Hegelian. 
The oldest of four brothers, including Edgar (see note 222). Orig- 

Biographical and other notes on the text 

inally the doyen of the Hegelian right and editor of Hegel’s Lectures 
on the Philosophy of Religion, Bruno Bauer became a leading member 
of the Hegelian left in the early 1840s, publishing a critique of the 
Synoptic Gospels (which resulted in dismissal from his academic 
post) and the anonymous Trumpet of the Last Judgement. Effectively 
leader of the informal radical Hegelian groups in Berlin, the Doktor- 
klub and later ‘the free’ (see note 124), his prolific output, promot- 
ing the ‘terrorism of pure theory’, included Die Judenfrage (see note 
1 51) and Die gute Sache der Freiheit und meine eigene Angelegenheit 
(see note 152). From the mid- 1840s Bauer’s influence declined, 
and in later years he moved to the political right. He continued to 
write, primarily anti -Russian and anti-semitic texts, but was 
increasingly marginalized from political and academic life. 

7. An allusion to the words of Peter and the apostles in Acts 5:29. 
When challenged by the high priest about their continued failure 
to observe the restrictions on their preaching, they replied: ‘obedi- 
ence to God comes before obedience to men’. 

8. Eumenides: spirits of punishment who avenge wrongs (often 
working by disturbing the mind of their victim), in particular those 
committed within a family. They may originally have been curses 
which developed into personifications (sometimes three winged 
women draped with snakes). 

9. Poseidon: Greek god of earthquakes and of water (the sea in 
particular). Poseidon had a somewhat violent and vengeful nature. 
In addition to creating earthquakes he could gather the clouds and 
call up storms. In some accounts he was the father of Antaeus, his 
son by Earth. 

10. Pontius Pilate: ‘Procurator’, that is Roman governor, of Judea 
(between ad 26 and 36), under whose auspices Christ was crucified. 
Initially well disposed towards Jesus, he is represented in the Gos- 
pels as having succumbed to popular pressure through fear of the 
consequences of an acquittal. Later Christian tradition has him, 
not inconveniently, committing suicide. See John 18:38 for Pilate’s 
response to Jesus’ claim that he came to ‘bear witness to the truth’; 
‘Truth’, replies Pilate, ‘what is that?’ 

1 1 . The patriotic and sometimes clandestine student organizations, the 
Burschenschaften, which flourished in the period after the Napo- 
leonic Wars, were a complex and variegated phenomenon. They 
were devoted, primarily, to a united Germany and, less coherently, 
to a more democratic constitution. The widely presumed link 
between these two aims was decisively broken only by actual unifi- 
cation in 1871. Some elements of the nationalist student movement 

Biographical and other notes on the text 

were preoccupied, as Stirner suggests, with spurious Teutonic sym- 
bols; advocates of Deutschtum , for example, occasionally adopting 
the distinctive, supposedly Old German, costume and haircut pro- 
moted by Friedrich Ludwig Jahn (1778-1852). 

12. Antigone is the subject of a tragedy by Sophocles ( c . 496-406 bc): 
a leading Athenian statesman (who served as imperial treasurer and 
was twice elected general) as well as playwright. Antigone killed 
herself to avoid being buried alive for disobeying an edict of Creon, 
king of Thebes, regarding the burial of her dead brother Polynices. 
Friedrich Holderlin (1770-1843) had published a free translation 
of Antigone in 1804. 

13. See Matthew 8:22. 

14. That is the fifth century bc, since Pericles, the Athenian general 
and statesman, lived c. 495-429 bc. 

15. The original Sophists (from sophistes or ‘expert’) were itinerant 
teachers in fifth and fourth century bc Greece - they included 
Protagoras ( c . 485— c. 415 bc), Hippias of Elis (a late fifth-century 
contemporary of Protagoras) and Thrasymachus (fl. c. 430-400 
bc) - who held the (potentially radical) doctrine that \irtue could be 
taught. They offered general moral and political as well as rhetorical 
instruction for a fee, claiming to equip their pupils for success in 
public life, but without any systematic inquiry into the assumptions 
on which they relied. 

16. Socrates (469-399 bc): Athenian philosopher. He was tried by a 
popular jury in 399 bc under the restored democracy on the charges 
of introducing strange gods and corrupting the young. Socrates 
died by drinking the hemlock poison prescribed by law thirty days 
after his condemnation. His speech in self-defence and his last days 
in prison are recounted by Plato, who also makes him the principal 
speaker in his other dialogues. Socrates wrote nothing himself, and 
the extent to which the views ascribed to him by Plato relate to his 
actual views is a subject of much debate. However, the account of 
his method in Plato’s early dialogues, where Socrates insists that 
he knows nothing himself but leads his interlocutors to question 
rigorously their own inherited views, is traditionally regarded as 

17. Scepticism was a philosophical movement which asserted the 
impossibility of knowledge. Its origins can be traced to Pyrrho of 
Elis (see note 32), but perhaps the most renowned exponent was 
Carneades ( c . 213 -c. 128 bc) who maintained that we have access 
to reality only through ‘representations’ which carry no independent 
guarantee of truth. He was expelled from Rome after delivering a 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

course of lectures in which he asserted that there was no adequate 
theoretical foundation for justice (none of his writings have 
survived). Sceptics advocated undogmatic enquiry and suspension 
of judgement, a process which they claimed resulted in ataraxia, or 
imperturbability of mind. Their name is derived from skepsis, mean- 
ing inquiry or investigation. 

18. An allusion to Christ’s advice to the apostles in Matthew i o: 1 6: 
‘Remember, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be 
wise as serpents and yet as innocent as doves.’ 

19. Rene Descartes (1596-1650): French philosopher and mathe- 
matician. After a Jesuit education and military service, Descartes 
travelled widely, before pursuing his studies at Paris, Leiden, 
Amsterdam, Utrecht, and in his last years, after religious per- 
secution, in Sweden under the patronage of Queen Christina. 
Author of Discourse on Method (1637) and Meditations (1641), 
Descartes is perhaps best known for his sceptical injunction to 
doubt everything and his insistence that ‘cogito ergo sum’ was an 
indubitable proposition which resisted that injunction. 

20. Peter Schlemihl: the main character in the fascinating work Peter 
Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte , first published in 1814, written 
by Adelbert von Chamisso (see note 183) and containing several 
autobiographical elements. Chamisso’s story is open to a wide vari- 
ety of interpretations, but Stirner’s claim is that, since only the body 
casts a shadow, the purely spiritual individual should be shadowless 
(like Peter Schlemihl, who sold his shadow to a man in grey). Peter 
Schlemihl reappeared, along with another man who had lost his 
reflection, in Abenteuer der Sylvester-Nacht (1815) by E. T. A. 
Hoffmann (1776-1822). 

21. Stirner is paraphrasing Isaiah 55:8. 

22. Simonides {c. 556-468 bc ): a Greek lyric and elegiac poet, Simon- 
ides wrote in a number of forms (including scolia, apophthegms, 
dirges, and hymns), and was reputed to be ugly, overfond of money, 
and the inventor of a mnemonic technique involving the placing of 
‘images’ against an ordered architectural background. Only a little 
of his output has survived, and some attributions are contested. 

23. Diogenes of Sinope (c. 400 -c. 325 bc): Greek philosopher. The 
most notorious of the Cynic sect (‘Socrates gone mad’), Diogenes 
insisted that happiness was attained by satisfying only the most 
minimal of natural needs and these only in the most direct way. 
His extreme poverty and eccentric behaviour was intended to 
embody the belief that the natural could not be dishonourable or 
indecent (see note 230). 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

24. Aristippus: founder of the ‘minor Socratic’ school of Cyrenaics (and 
a grandson of Aristippus, the companion of Socrates). The central 
claim of the Cyrenaics was that immediate sensual pleasure was 
the only goal of action. 

25. The philosophical origins of Stoicism begin with Heraclitus of Eph- 
esus (fl. c. 500 bc), but the school was formally founded by Zeno 
of Citium (344-262 bc) around 300 bc (in a ‘painted colonnade’ 
or Stoa Poikile in Athens from which they took their name). The 
Stoics believed that the rational soul of an individual was part of 
the divine logos which organized the universe. Ethically, they held 
that virtue and happiness consisted in ascertaining and conforming 
to that teleologically structured cosmic order - to live ‘in accordance 
with nature’ was the goal of human life and required a state of 
mind, apatheia , involving imperturbability and freedom from 

26. Epicureanism was a school of ancient Greek philosophy, named 
after Epicurus (c. 34 1-27 1 bc), which flourished into the first cen- 
tury bc. Epicureans were committed to atomism (on the basis of 
an appeal to the senses) and hedonism in ethics. They held that 
the purpose of philosophy was practical, and located the highest 
human good in secure and lasting pleasure. This pleasure, however, 
consisted of a state in which natural and necessary desires were 
satisfied (and not of the potentially frustrating process of satisfying 
limitless desires). 

27. Democritus (c. 460 -c. 357 bc): Greek philosopher. A student of 
the atomist Leucippus (mid fifth century bc), Democritus wrote 
widely on ethics, poetry, and astronomy, but is best known for his 
theory of the physical world as an assemblage of atoms. Almost 
none of his work survives. His ethical fragments are hard to inter- 
pret as evidence of a systematic theory of conduct, but the standard 
inference is that people should aim at the happiness which derives 
from peace of mind, which is, in turn, based on knowledge of the 
physical world. This ethic of ‘cheerfulness’ may be the basis of his 
later sobriquet ‘the laughing philosopher’. 

28. Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus) (65-8 bc): Roman poet. 
Horace worked in a variety of forms - verse epistles, satires, odes, 
and epodes - ranging in content from serious criticism to satire. 
He is perhaps best known for his Odes, a collection of 104 short 
Latin poems treating a variety of topics, from patriotic accounts of 
political events to incidents in his own life. All his known work 

29. Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC ) : Roman lawyer, statesman, and 
philosopher. Cicero progressed rapidly through a range of offices 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

to become Consul at the earliest legal age in 63 BC. He was briefly 
exiled following his suppression of the conspiracy of Catiline (63 
bc), after which he increasingly concentrated on his philosophical 
work. Politically he had sought to preserve the institutions of the 
Republic against ‘caesarism’, and after Caesar’s assassination he 
returned to public life as one of the leaders of the republican party. 
However, following a public dispute with Antony (e. 82-30 bc) he 
was put to death in the proscriptions of 43 BC. His last work, On 
Duties , a general moral treatise based on Stoic precepts, was written 
in 44 bc. 

30. Hedone connotes ‘pleasure’ or ‘enjoyment’. 

31. Timon ( c . 320-r. 230 bc): Sceptic philosopher. Timon spent much 
of his life wandering as a Sophist before saving enough money to 
live independently in Athens. Only fragments of his writings - the 
Silloi, or lampoons, mainly ridiculing dogmatic philosophies - 

32. Pyrrho of Elis (c. 365-c. 270 bc): founder of Greek Scepticism. 
Pyrrho held that we could have no undeniable knowledge of things, 
and should rather suspend judgement, living life on the basis of 
the appearance of things. In this way an equilibrium in the soul 
could be created which would release us from passion and an*ety. 
He lived a solitary, abstemious, and secluded life and left no 

33. Martin Luther (1483-1546): German theologian and the dominant 
figure of the German Reformation. Luther was ordained in 1507, 
and became a professor at Wittenberg in Saxony in 1512. He 
entered the Augustinian Eremites, and it was his failure to find 
spiritual peace in a monastic vocation that eventually led to his 
rejection of the theological foundations of medieval Catholicism. 
In 1517 he provoked a doctrinal dispute with his ninety-five theses 
at Wittenberg, and defended himself against the authorities at 
Augsburg (1518), Leipzig (1519), and the Diet of Worms (1520). 
A prolific writer, he also completed an important German trans- 
lation of the Bible. His attack on the sale of indulgences, his denial 
of the authority of rulings by the ecumenical councils, and his insist- 
ence that the papacy was a historical and not a divine institution, 
led to his excommunication in 1521. His thought is characterized 
by an affirmation of justification by faith, and the assertion of direct 
communication between believer and God without priestly 
mediation. Luther largely resisted the revolutionary tendencies of 
the Reformation, insisting on the duty to suffer civil injustice, 
although after 1530 he accepted the lawfulness of certain kinds of 
resistance to political authority. 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

34. ‘Machiavellianism’ after Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527), Floren- 
tine official and political writer. His best-known works are The 
Prince (1531) and Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy 
(1531). ‘Machiavellianism’ has been taken to mean many things - 
perhaps most frequently a commitment to the doctrine of ‘reason 
of state’ propagating knowledge of the means of preserving domi- 
nation over a people - but here seems simply to suggest a particular 
historic period parallel to Humanismus, the name given to that 
aspect of Renaissance thought which sought a rediscovery and 
development of the knowledge of the ancients. In Germany the 
leading figures of Humanismus , a movement which was at its height 
in the last decades of the fifteenth century and the first decade of 
the sixteenth, included Crotus Robeanus (1480-c. 1539) and 
Konrad Celtis (1459-1508). 

35. Das Mddchen aus der Fremde is a poem by Friedrich Schiller, written 
in 1796, and first published in the Musenalmanach for 1797. It is 
often interpreted as an allegory in which the beauty, dignity, and 
ability to bring happiness possessed by the eponymous maiden are 
taken to symbolize poetry. 

36. Stirner’s reference is to Jesus’ elaboration of the conditions of dis- 
cipleship in Matthew 16:26. 

37. Stirner’s references to The Essence of Christianity are to the second 
edition published in Leipzig in 1843. He quotes especially fre- 
quently from its closing pages, where Feuerbach insists on the 
prescriptive import of human nature, and appears to be attempting 
to reestablish and revalue religious sentiment rather than simply to 
destroy or dissolve it. In these pages, which Arnold Ruge had urged 
Feuerbach to reconsider, and which Friedrich Engels and Edgar 
Bauer parodied in verse in The Triumph of Faith (1842), Feuerbach 
describes his entire project in religious terms, as seeking ‘to vindi- 
cate to common things an uncommon significance, to life, as such, 
a religious import ’ and describes all ‘moral’, that is social, relations 
as ‘ per se religious’, before concluding the book ‘Amen’. 

38. ‘Das Wesen des Menschen ist des Menschen hochstes Wesen’. 
Wesen has many meanings, including both the essential nature of a 
group of entities as distinct from their individual variations (as in 
‘human nature’) and a being, creature, or entity (as in ‘God is the 
Supreme Being’). 

39. ‘Romanticism [Roman tik]’ refers to a late eighteenth and early nine- 
teenth-century movement of writers and artists (typically contrasted 
with the classicism of Goethe and Schiller). Its characterization and 
categorization are fiercely contested, but prominent representatives 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

include the writers Novalis (1772-1801) and Friedrich Schlegel 
(1772-1829), and the painter Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1 840). 
Here S timer seems concerned to point out that, in reacting against 
the fragmentation and disenchantment of the modem world, the 
Romantics - including E. T. A. Hoffman (1776-1822), Jacob 
Grimm (1785-1863), and his brother Wilhelm Grimm ( 1786— 
1859) - rediscovered an interest in folk songs, folk law, and fairy 
tales. In this context Stirner links the Romantic movement with the 
fashionable spiritual and scientific interest in magnetism, somnam- 
bulism, and Mesmerism. Prevorst, a small town in Wiirttemburg, 
was a centre of particular interest and the home of Frederike Hauffe 
(1801-29), one of the most famous visionaries. 

40. See John 1:14. 

41. That is ‘Supreme Being’. 

42. S timer’s quotation is from a collection of 103 epigrams written by 
Goethe in 1790 entitled Venetian Epigrams , first published in the 
Musenalmanach for 1796. 

43. ‘Das hochste Wesen’ can also connote ‘the Supreme Being’. 

44. ‘Danaid-labour [DanaidenarbeitY is a figure of speech for an endless 
labour. From the story of the fifty daughters of King Danaus who 
(with the exception of Hypermestra, wife of Lynceus) killed their 
husbands (the fifty sons of Aegyptus) on their wedding night, at the 
command of their father. For punishment they were condemned to 
draw water for eternity from a well with a perforated container. 

45. The Volksgeist is the distinctive shared character of a particular 
people, their shared social and cultural heritage which is embodied 
in its customs, laws, and institutions. For Hegel, history took the 
form of the successive emergence of Volksgeiste, each one fully real- 
izing itself before (since it is only part of the Weltgeist which mani- 
fests itself in history) giving way to a successor. 

46. An alternative, if equally unliteral, translation of ‘Du hast einen 
Sparren zu viel!’ might be ‘you have a screw loose’. 

47. Stirner’s reference is to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:22: ‘But I say 
this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it 
before the court; if a man calls his brother “fool” he will answer 
for it before the Sanhedrin.’ The Sanhedrin was the highest court 
of justice at Jerusalem. 

48. Benedict XIV (1675-1758): Pope from 1740 to 1758. A keen scho- 
lar, Benedict devoted his spare time to theological and canonistic 
study; he had the Vatican library catalogued, and founded societies 
for the study of church history, and Roman and Christian antiquity. 
He instituted reforms within the Church - reducing taxation in the 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

Papal states and changing the criteria for inclusion of books in the 
Index - and was conciliatory in his dealings with secular and Prot- 
estant powers, making concessions over matters of patronage, the 
right of nomination to vacant sees and secular jurisdiction over 
ecclesiastical charges. In 1745 Voltaire dedicated his tragic drama 
Mahomet (1742) to Benedict. 

49. That is, a ‘political animal’, or more properly ‘an animal that flour- 
ishes in a city state’, a claim most famously made by Aristotle, 
Politics , I253a3. 

50. That is, a ‘temple’ or ‘place dedicated by consecration to some 

5 1 . Die Sachsischen Vaterlandsbldtter was a liberal newspaper published 
in Dresden from 1837 and in Leipzig from 1841. 

52. Friedrich Christoph Schlosser (1776-1861): German liberal his- 
torian. After studying at Gottingen, Schlosser worked as a private 
tutor, before being appointed as professor of history at Frankfurt 
and then Heidelberg. He was a prolific writer and was perhaps 
the most popular German historian of his generation. From 1815 
Schlosser began publishing his multi-volume and unfinished 
Weltgeschichte. Stimer’s quotation is from his history of the eight- 
eenth century, first published in two volumes in 1823 and then 
expanded to six volumes published between 1836 and 1848. 

53. Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d’Holbach (1723-89): leading figure of 
the French Enlightenment. Born in Germany and educated at 
Leiden in Holland. An advocate of atheism and materialism - he 
published a large number of books and pamphlets discrediting 
religion, many in collaboration with Jacques- Andre Naigeon (1738— 
1810). He was also known for his puritanical and utopian political 
theory, advocating what he called Ethocratie, or the rule of morality. 
His salon, which met twice a week for over thirty years, was an 
important centre for those grouped around L Encyclopedic - the pro- 
ject for an encyclopaedic dictionary of existing human knowledge 
(published between 1751 and 1780). 

54. Pietism refers to a seventeenth-century reform movement within 
the German Lutheran church. Pietism emphasized the centrality 
of the Bible, individual spiritual rebirth, and Christian social 
responsibility. Philipp Jakob Spener (1635-1705), author of Pia 
desideria (1675), was perhaps its central founding figure, and the 
University of Halle, founded under his influence, became an 
important centre of the movement. After an initial success within 
the church, the influence of the movement slowly declined. In 
emphasizing emotion, the practical ‘loving’ side of Christianity, and 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

personal devotion (critics accused it of sentimentality and 
mysticism) pietism was often portrayed as the antithesis of 

55. Probably a reference to Friedrich Wilhelm Krummacher (1796- 
1868): German Reformed Church pastor. Krummacher studied 
theology at Halle and Jena. After working as an assistant preacher 
in the reformed congregation in Frankfurt, he became a preacher 
at Ruhrort, Gemarke, and then Elberf eld. An opponent of rational- 
ism, he wrote many works, including Solomon and Shulamite (1827), 
Elijah the Thisbite (1828), and a posthumously published autobi- 
ography (1869) which deals with his life up to 1848 - and includes 
an interesting account of his experiences in the Burschenschaf ten. 
In 1847 Krummacher became the preacher at Trinity Church in 
Berlin and in 1853 court preacher at Potsdam. 

56. Philip II (1527-98): king of Spain (1556-98) and Portugal (1580- 
98). An absolutist champion of the Roman Catholic Counter- 
Reformation. During his reign the Spanish Empire expanded its 
power and territory (despite failed attempts to invade England and 
to suppress the revolt of the Netherlands). Philip contained the 
Ottoman Empire, preserved the southern Netherlands (that is, 
modern Belgium) for Catholicism, and made extensive attempts to 
stamp out Lutheranism in Spain and Italy, insisting: ‘I do not pro- 
pose nor desire to be the ruler of heretics.’ 

57. That is literally ‘lovers of truth’. Stirner’s meaning here is not cer- 
tain, but this may be a somewhat obscure reference to Karl August 
von Reisach (1800-69): Catholic theologian. Reisach studied phil- 
osophy at Munich, and law at Heidelberg, Gottingen, and Land- 
shut, before turning to theology. He was ordained in 1828 after 
studying at the German College in Rome, and became Bishop of 
Eichstatt in Bavaria in 1836. In 1835 Reisach had published a book 
under the pseudonym Athanasius Sincerus Philalethes, Was haben 
wir von den Reformatoren und Stimmfuhrem des katholischen Deutsch- 
land unserer Tage zu haltem?, dealing with the question of mixed 
marriages. He also represented the Pope in the ‘Cologne Muddle’ - 
a political and ecclesiastical confrontation provoked by the refusal 
of the Catholic Archbishop of Cologne, Droste-Vischering (1773— 
1845), i n contravention of an earlier papal concordat, to bless mixed 
marriages unless both parties agreed to educate any children in the 
Catholic faith. In 1847 Reisach was made Archbishop of Munich- 
Freising. He was later recalled to Rome. 

58. ‘Friends of Light [Lichtfremde]' : a Protestant movement founded 
by a group of progressive theologians in Saxony in 1841, criticizing 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

the dogmatism of contemporary Lutheranism and claiming auton- 
omy for its members in regard to the doctrine and order of the 
established church. Promoting both liberal theology and greater 
democracy within the church, the movement combined religious 
and political dissent. Many of its clerical supporters were subjected 
to ecclesiastical discipline, and dissident congregations were formed 
in several towns. 

59. Rationalists maintained that the Gospel narratives were historical, 
but rejected explanations of that history which rested on direct 
divine intervention. They sought instead to provide a rational expla- 
nation for events described but not adequately explained by the 
evangelists. The orientalist and theologian H.E.G. Paulus (1761— 
1851), for example, wrote a three-volume Exegetisches Handbuch iiber 
diedrei ersten Evangelien (1830-3) in which he attempted to reconcile 
a disbelief in miracles and the supernatural with a belief in the 
substantial accuracy of the Gospel narrative. 

60. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809-65): self-educated radical French 
writer, often portrayed as the ‘father of anarchism’. His major work 
was the Systeme des contradictions economiques ou Philosophic de la 
misere (1846), but he is probably best known for What is Property? 
(1840) - although his aphoristic answer ‘property is theft’ was in 
fact first used by Jacques Pierre Brissot de Warville (1754-93) in 
his Recherches philosophiques sur le propriete et le vol (1780). Proudhon 
spent much of 1 848 in a failed attempt to set up a mutual credit 
bank (meanwhile voting against the ‘right to work’ and the adoption 
of a democratic constitution for the Second Republic). He was 
jailed for three years in 1849, an d when his La Justice dans la 
revolution et dans Veglise (1858) was confiscated, he fled to Brussels 
to avoid further imprisonment. Whatever the merit of Stimer’s later 
charges against socialism in general, they do have some force 
against Proudhon (as well as conf using those who seek to assimilate 
Stirner too quickly with the anarchist tradition). On the question 
of poverty, Proudhon seems to have held a ‘law of poverty’, which 
saw the natural wants that socialism would satisfy as limited to a 
very basic set of needs. As for illiberality, Proudhon endorsed the 
exclusion of women from both the political and economic spheres, 
accepted slavery in the American South, supported violent govern- 
ment strikebreaking, had detailed plans to suppress dissent from 
his own supporters, and proposed (in his Carnets) to exterminate 
the Jews if they could not be ‘sent back to Asia’. 

6 1 . Principles of the Philosophy of the Future was published by Feuerbach 
in 1 843. Together with his Provisional Theses for the Reformation] of 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

Philosophy , published in the Anekdota of Arnold Ruge in the same 
year, this work concluded Feuerbach’s polemic with speculative 
idealism in general, and Hegel in particular - making explicit the 
critique of philosophy that had remained largely submerged in The 
Essence of Christianity. These two works also began to develop, albeit 
in a distracting apophthegmatic form, Feuerbach’s new philosophy 
of ‘sensationalism’. 

62. Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768): German philosopher, 
deist, and Hebrew scholar. From 1727 until his death Reimarus 
was a professor of Hebrew and oriental languages at Hamburg. 
Although reluctant to have his work published, Reimarus did allow 
his Abhandlungen von den vomehmsten Wahrheiten der natiirlichen 
Religion (1754) to appear in his own lifetime. Lessing published 
various other extracts posthumously - the so-called ‘Wolfenbiittel 
fragments’ - in which Reimarus rejects miracles and revelation, and 
finds evidence of contradiction and fraud in the biblical narratives. 

63. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831): German philos- 
opher. Bom in Stuttgart, and educated at the theological seminary 
at Tubingen. Hegel worked variously as a private tutor in Beme 
and Frankfurt, editor of a pro-French newspaper in Bamberg, a 
Privatdozent at Jena University, and headteacher of a Nuremberg 
Gymnasium , before his appointment as professor of philosophy at 
Heidelberg in 1816. In 1818 he was appointed as professor of 
philosophy at Berlin as a successor to Fichte. His major works 
include the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), The Science of Logic 
(1812), Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1817), and the 
Elements of the Philosophy of Right (1821). He was an important 
influence on Stimer, who attended his lectures as a student in 
Berlin. Several of his lecture series were published posthumously, 
including The Philosophy of History , The History of Philosophy , and 
The Philosophy of Religion. 

64. Stirner’s etymological claim is that ‘religion’ originates from religare, 
to ‘bind again’, to ‘bind back’, or to ‘bind more thoroughly’. 

65. Karl Ludwig Sand (1795-1820): German theology student. A vet- 
eran of the Napoleonic war, and a rather unbalanced and politically 
confused member of the Jena Unbedingten, the ‘Unconditionals’ - 
a chapter of the Schwarzen, the more radical (anti-duelling and 
drinking) wing of the Burschenschaften. Sand murdered August 
von Kotzebue in 1819, and, once he had recovered from a suicide 
attempt, was himself executed on 5 May 1820. 

66. August von Kotzebue (1761-1819): civil servant turned theatre 
director, prolific playwright (several times accused of plagiarism), 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

and probable czarist agent. Perhaps now best known to English 
readers through the appearance of one of his plays, Das Kind der 
Liebe (1790), in a private theatrical in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. 
A vocal opponent of liberalism, Kotzebue was stabbed to death by 
Karl Sand in 1819. The murder of Kotzebue - together with the 
attempt by Karl Loning to murder Karl von Ibell (1780-1834) and 
the discovery of a draft constitution written by Karl Follen (1 795— 
1840) - was used as a pretext to suppress the Burschenschaften 
and to rally the forces of both Prussian and continental reaction. 
This culminated in the agreement of the continental powers in 
August 1819 to the ‘Carlsbad Decrees’ which provided for the 
removal of university teachers teaching principles hostile to public 
order, imposed tighter censorship on publications, and established 
a commission - the Untersuchungsgesetz - for the investigation of 
subversive activity. 

67. St Crispin (d. c. 285): Christian martyr, probably of Roman origin. 
French hagiographers describe Crispin and his brother Crispinian 
as being of noble birth, and fleeing to Soissons during the per- 
secution of Diocletian (245-3 1 3 )> where they set up as shoemakers, 
taking for their work only such money as their customers could 
afford. Stirner’s reference to theft is probably taken from Hegel in 
§ 1 26 of the Elements of the Philosophy of Right , where Crispin is 
portrayed as stealing leather to make shoes for the poor. I have 
been unable to locate any mention of theft in any other or older 

68. Probably a reference to the guerillos, the regionally based irregular 
partisan forces which supplemented the inadequate regular army 
in the Spanish conflict with Napoleon in the Peninsula Wars (1808- 
14), harassing the French in rough rural terrain. 

69. Nero (Nero Claudius Caesar) (ad 37-68): Roman Emperor (ad 
54-68). The nephew of Caligula (ad 12-41), Nero was educated 
by the philosopher and imperial official Seneca ( c . 4 bc-ad 65), 
and adopted by the Emperor Claudius (10 bc-ad 54) whom he 
succeeded in ad 54. He scandalized public opinion by having his 
mother murdered and his wife removed in favour of a mistress, 
and became notorious for his extravagance, vanity, cruelty, sense 
of power, and paranoia, as well as his undignified appearances in 
public performances at Rome. Nero’s supposed involvement in the 
great fire in ad 64, and his frequent execution of aristocrats on 
political charges, also helped provoke widespread mistrust. During 
the great rebellion in Palestine, when a number of generals, and 
then finally even the Praetorians, deserted him, Nero fled Rome 
and committed suicide. 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

70. Karl Heinrich (from 1808, Ritter von) Lang (1764-1835): German 
historian, archivist, and writer. Between 1793 and 1801, he was 
employed as a secretary and archivist to the progressive Prussian 
statesman Hardenberg (1750-1822). Lang was involved in resolv- 
ing several boundary disputes with Bavaria, and in 1806 entered 
the Bavarian civil service. He was ennobled in 1808, and from 1810 
to 1817 worked as an archivist in Munich. He is best known for 
his satirical memoirs which were published as Memorien des Karl 
Heinrich Ritters von Lang, Skizzen aus meinem Leben und Wirken, 
meinen Reisen und meiner Zeit, 2 volumes (Brunswick, 1841-2). 

71. A reference to the parable of ‘the sinner and publican (or tax 
gatherer)’ in Luke 18:10. The Pharisees were a large Jewish 
religious sect, depicted in the New Testament as the primary 
opponents of Christ. They attacked Jesus for forgiving sins and 
breaking the Sabbath, and were attacked in turn for their purely 
formal observance of the law. 

72. Emilia Galotti is the eponymous heroine of a ‘domestic tragedy’ 
written by Lessing between 1754 and 1772. The ruling prince, 
vowing to seduce Emilia Galotti, orders his favourite to prevent 
Emilia Galotti’s forthcoming marriage by any means necessary. A 
hold-up of her coach is staged, in which her fiance is killed and 
Emilia Galotti is abducted under the pretence of a rescue. However, 
she soon discovers the truth, including the prince’s real intentions, 
and to avoid that fate persuades her own father to kill her. In 
Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther a copy of Emilia Galotti is 
on Werther’s desk when he commits suicide. 

73. Origen (c. 185-c. 254): Alexandrian biblical scholar. Eusebius of 
Caesarea ( c . 260-340) reports that Origen, who already led a fier- 
cely ascetical existence (organized around fasting and voluntary 
poverty), castrated himself in an excess of zeal - possibly as a result 
of a rather literal reading of Matthew 19:12 where Jesus refers to 
‘eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the 
kingdom of heaven’. His writings survive primarily in fragments or 
in Latin translations. 

74. Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-81): writer, playwright, and poet. 
Author of many works, including Emilia Galotti and an important 
critical essay on Laocoon (1766) dealing with poetry and the plastic 
arts. In his later life Lessing became more interested in philosophi- 
cal and theological problems - he edited the work of H. S. Reim- 
arus (see note 62), directed a series of eleven polemical pamphlets 
(the Anti-Goeze) against a zealous Protestant pastor in Hamburg, 
Johann Melchior Goeze (1717-86), and wrote Die Erziehung des 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

Menschengeschlechts (1780) in which Christianity is portrayed as an 
important stage in, but not the conclusion of, the progressive edu- 
cation of humankind. 

75. Crito: contemporary and friend of Socrates (see note 16). Crito is 
referred to in Plato’s Apology, Phaedo , and Euthydemus, whilst in the 
Crito he is portrayed as planning for Socrates to escape from prison. 
Seventeen (lost) dialogues, ascribed to him by Diogenes Laertius 
( 1 c . ad 200-50), are of dubious authenticity. 

76. Louis XVI (1754-93): King of France (1774-93). The second of 
four sons of the Dauphin Louis (1729-65), he succeeded his grand- 
father Louis XV (1710-74) as king of France. Louis married 
Marie- Antoinette of Austria in an attempt to unite the two ruling 
houses. Unable and unwilling to deal with the social and political 
problems that he had inherited, Louis was forced by the revolution, 
first, into a constitutional role, and then to trial and the guillotine 
on 21 January 1793 (Marie- Antoinette was executed in October of 
the same year). When Stimer talks of ‘the revolution’ with no 
additional distinguishing adjective he is usually referring to the 
French revolution of 1789 which overthrew absolute monarchy. 

77. That is ‘man is the highest [or supreme] being for man’. 

78. August Hermann Francke (1663-1727): German pietist and edu- 
cationalist. After studying philosophy and theology at Erfurt and 
Kiel, Francke eventually became a professor at Halle, and a pastor 
at Glauchau where his sermons proved very popular. In 1695 he 
laid the foundations of his Franckesche Stifimgen, by opening a poor 
school in his house. In 1696 he founded an orphanage and his 
Paedagogium. Influenced by the educational theory of Johann Com- 
enius (1592-1670), Francke’s emphasis on practical and socially 
useful work laid part of the foundations of what became the Real- 
schule of the nineteenth century. His philanthropic work was 
endorsed by Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia (1688-1740). 

79. Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847): Irish lawyer, nationalist political 
leader, and agitator. O’Connell believed that the first step to repeal 
of the Union with Britain was Catholic emancipation, which could 
be achieved through the pressure of peacefully organized numbers 
(to which end he perfected a system of agitation by mass meetings). 
He founded the Catholic Association in 1823, and was elected as 
a Member of Parliament for County Clare in 1828 (although he 
could not sit in the House of Commons until the Catholic Emanci- 
pation Act was passed in 1829). The ‘O’Connell fund’, mentioned 
by Stimer, presumably refers to the penny a month paid by Cath- 
olics to the Catholic Association to provide a fund for the general 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

protection and advancement of their interests. By the end of 1 823 
the fund was bringing in some £1,000 a week. 

80. St Boniface {c. 675-754): English monk, schoolmaster, and priest. 
Boniface was consecrated bishop by Pope Gregory II in 722, not 
to a particular see, but to a commission of preaching to heathens. 
He set about undermining paganism with a vengeance, especially 
in Bavaria and Hesse, and became known as ‘Der Apostel der 
Deutschen’. In 732 he was made archbishop by Gregory III with 
the authority to consecrate bishops for Germany beyond the Rhine. 
In 754 he was murdered near Dokkum in Holland by a group of 
pagans (his remains are buried in Fulda whose abbey Boniface 
founded in 744). 

81. Maximilian-Frangois-Isidore de Robespierre (1758-94): lawyer 
and Jacobin leader in the French revolution. Robespierre was 
elected to the Estates General, led the Montagnards in the National 
Convention, was a member of the Committee of Public Safety and 
one of the chief organizers of the Terror. Dubbed the ‘Incorrupt- 
ible’, he advocated, and then, having been declared an outlaw, ref- 
used to lead a rebellion, and failed to commit suicide, fell victim 
to a ‘prompt, severe, and inflexible justice’ in Thermidor 1794. 

82. Karl Theodore Komer (1791-1813): prolific German poet and 
dramatist. Korner’s reputation was enhanced for many Germans 
by the manner of his death in the wars of liberation against Napo- 
leon - he had joined Liitzow’s Free Corps and was killed in a 
skirmish near Gadebusch in Mecklenburg. His popular patriotic 
verse was collected by his father and published posthumously as 
Leyer und Scherer dt (1814). 

83. On trial for heresy at the Diet of Worms (April, 1521), held under 
Emperor Karl V, this was supposedly Luther’s response to ques- 
tioning from an official of the Archbishop of Trier. Refusing to 
recant, Luther is reported as declaring ‘Hier stehe ich, ich kann 
nicht anders! Gott helfe mir! Amen.’ 

84. Lais: one of three celebrated Greek courtesans. The best known 
was the daughter of Timandra (the mistress of Alcibiades) made 
famous by the Athenian orator Demosthenes (384-322 bc) who 
was supposedly deterred from engaging her services by her exorbi- 
tant prices. Lais was reputedly pricked to death by the bodkins of 
the women of Thessaly, who were jealous of her beauty. 

85. Anne de [known as Ninon de] Lenclos (1620-1705): French social- 
ite. Ninon de Lenclos was famous for her many amorous relation- 
ships with distinguished contemporaries - including the libertin 
Saint-Evremond (1613-1703) - and for her salon which was fre- 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

quented by many leading social and literary figures including La 
Fontaine (1621-95), Racine (1639-99), an d Moliere (1622-73). 
When she was persecuted and at one point imprisoned, Queen 
Christina of Sweden intervened to secure her release. She was the 
author of La Coquette vangee (1659). 

86. Archimedes ( c . 287-212 bc): Greek mathematician and inventor. 
Archimedes was bom and died at Syracuse (where he invented 
several anti-siege devices that were used against the Romans), and 
is perhaps best remembered for his claim that he could move a 
great weight by a very small force: ‘Give me a place to stand on 
and I will move the earth.’ 

87. Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724-1803): German poet and 
writer. Klopstock worked in a wide variety of forms, including patri- 
otic historical plays such as Hermanns Schlacht (1769), an attempt 
at hymn-writing in Geistliche Lieder (1758), and a number of short 
works on language including Grammatische Gesprache (1794). But 
he is best known for his odes and Der Messias - a religious epic in 
twenty cantos published between 1751 and 1773. 

88. Sesostris is the name of three Egyptian pharaohs of the nineteenth 
and twentieth centuries BC. Stirner’s reference is probably to 
Sesostris III (1887-1849 bc), who - according to the Greek his- 
torians Herodotus and Diodorus (c. 80-30 bc) - led a campaign to 
conquer parts of Europe and Asia. 

89. Sitte, can mean both ‘custom’, that is the received behaviour of a 
community, as in several of the preceding paragraphs, and ‘moral’. 
Hegel distinguished between Moralitat - a morality grounded in 
individual conscience, feelings, or reason - and Sittlichkeit - the 
ethical norms that are embodied in the institutions and customs of 
a community, and although S timer does not use this distinction 
systematically, he does often play on the etymology of Sitte to make 
a claim about the received nature of morality. 

90. Himmelstiirmend can, less literally, also mean ‘boundless’ (as in 
‘enthusiasm’) or ‘wildly ambitious’ (as in ‘project’). AHimmelstiirmer 
is a ‘romantic idealist’ or even ‘firebrand’. 

91. Jean -Jacques Rousseau (1712-78): moral and political philosopher 
.(as well as composer, music critic, novelist, playwright, and 
botanist). He was born in Geneva, Switzerland. Rousseau is now 
best known for his radical ‘democratic’ Social Contract (1762) and 
the critique of the Enlightenment optimism of his encyclopaedist 
associates in the Discourse on the Sciences and Arts (1750) and Dis- 
course on the Origin of Inequality (1755). Earlier readers were prob- 
ably more familiar with Rousseau’s account of education in Emile 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

(1762), his autobiographical writings - especially the Confessions 
(1764-70) and Reveries of a Solitary Walker (1776-8) - and his 
immensely popular epistolary novel about two lovers in a tiny Alpine 
village jfulie, ou La Nouvelle Heloise (1781). His remains were moved 
to the Pantheon in 1794. 

92. Louis-Antoine-Leon de St Just (1767-94): French revolutionary. 
Deputy to the National Convention, and Jacobin. A colleague of 
Robespierre and leader of the Montagnards. Famous for his ora- 
torical skills, military leadership, and political role in the Terror. 
St Just was later arrested with Robespierre and executed after 
attempts to stir a rising against the Convention. Stirner’s quotation 
is from Danton’s speech to the National Convention on 3 1 March 

93. Possibly a reference to Marcus Manlius Capitolinus, the Roman 
commander who, roused by the cackling of the capital’s sacred 
geese, repulsed a surprise attack by the Gauls ( c . 390 bc). He was 
later accused of attempting to make himself tyrant and was hurled 
to his death from the Tarpeian rock. 

94. Marcus Atilius Regulus: Roman Consul. Captured in the war 
against Carthage in 255 bc, Regulus was subsequently sent to 
Rome to negotiate the release of some wealthy Carthaginians who 
had been captured, under oath to return if he failed to persuade 
the Roman Senate. The story of his death by torture on his volun- 
tary return to Carthage - celebrated by Horace in his Odes - may 
be untrue (the barbarity of the Carthaginians being a convenient 
political invention) but became proverbial for honouring one’s 

95. Jean-Paul Marat (1743-93): French revolutionary. Founder editor 
of L Ami du peuple and Montagnard deputy to the National Conven- 
tion, Marat was notorious for his denunciation of conspirators, calls 
for popular violence, and advocacy of dictatorship. After being mur- 
dered in his medicinal bath by Charlotte Corday (1768-93), who 
was seeking to avenge the downfall of the Girondins, he became 
the object of a popular cult - the Cordeliers club hung his 
embalmed heart from its ceiling and buried him in its garden. The 
Convention ordered that he be ‘Pantheonized’ in September 1794, 
but his reputation was increasingly attacked after Thermidor and 
his remains were removed from the Pantheon in February 1795. 
The Pantheon franqais is the secular burial place of prominent 
French citizens who have been awarded a national funeral. Orig- 
inally intended as a church, the huge building in the shape of a 
Greek cross was built (1757-90) with funds from a national lottery. 


Biographical and other notes on the text 

In 1791 the Constituent Assembly decreed the change of use and 
name, and had ‘Aux grands hommes la Patrie reconaissante’ carved 
over the front entrance. 

96. This saying, ‘fiat iustitia, per eat mundus [let justice be done, even 
if the world should perish]’, is usually attributed to the Holy Roman 
Emperor Ferdinand I (1503-64). 

97. An allusion to the parable of ‘the return of the unclean spirit’. See 
Matthew 12:43. 

98. See the words of Christ to a prospective disciple in Matthew 19:21. 

99. Ananias and Sapphira were a married couple who, when the Apos- 
tolic church instituted community of goods, withheld some of their 
property. On being challenged in turn by Peter, they dropped down 
dead. See Acts 5:1-11. 

100. August Becker (1814-71): German utopian socialist. The son of a 
cleric, educated at Giessen, Becker became a journalist and teacher. 
In the 1840s he was one of the ablest of Weitling’s followers and 
advisors in Switzerland. As the author of an earlier pamphlet Was 
wollen die Kommunisten? Becker was praised by the young Friedrich 
Engels as ‘one of the cleverest of the Swiss communists’. 

1 01. That is ‘before one’s eyes’. 

102. An allusion to Matthew 23:12. 

103. [EJingetrichtert literally means to ‘introduce something into someone 
by means of a funnel’, but is commonly used to connote ‘drum 
something into a pupil’. 

104. Erbsiinde, that is ‘original sin’. 

105. The words of Spirit to Faust in the scene ‘Night’ in Goethe’s Faust, 
Part One, line 512. 

106. Theodor Friedrich Kliefoth (1818-95): orthodox German 

Lutheran theologian, opposed to both pietist and rationalist cur- 
rents within the church. Educated at the Universities o